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Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide, 
In thy most need to go by thy side. 

This is No. 40 of Everyman s Library. A 
list of authors and their works in this series 
will be found at the end of this volume. The 
publishers will be pleased to send freely to all 
applicants a separate, annotated list of the 








IN 2 VOLS. VOL. i 

HERODOTUS, born about 484 B.C. at 
Halicarnassus. Travelled extensively in 
Greece and in Macedon, Thrace, Persia, 
and Palestine. In 457 was living at Samos, 
but about 447 went to Athens. Assisted in 
the foundation of Thurii, of which he became 
a citizen, and died there about 425- B.C. 




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Made in Great Britain 

at the Temple Press Letchworth 

and decorated by Eric Ravilious 


J. M. Dent <$L Sons Ltd. 
Aldine House Bedford St. London 

First Published in this Edition 1910 
Reprinted 1912, 1916, ^920, 1924, 1927, 
1930, 1933, 1936 


THE accompanying translation of Herodotus was first issued 
in 1858, and since that date has had no serious rival. 
Rawlinson s Herodotus like Jowett s Plato, Jebb s Sophocles, 
and Butcher and Lang s Odyssey is become well-nigh an English 
classic. Up to the present time, however, its price has been 
practically prohibitive. In its original form it will be valued 
for many years to come as a great storehouse of information on 
all the innumerable questions and problems that must inevitably 
arise when dealing with an author like Herodotus. The bulk of 
this information is contained in elaborate essays and appendices 
full of instruction, no doubt, for the trained scholar, but quite 
aseless (and encumbering) for the u general reader." 

In the present reprint all these essays have been omitted; 
the notes have been cut down unsparingly; and the Introduc 
tion (on the Life and Writings of Herodotus), which, in the large 
edition, extends to nearly one hundred and twenty pages, has 
been reduced to about twenty. 

Notwithstanding, it is hoped that, in its present shape, 
Rawlinson s Herodotus will prove a source of pleasure to many 
who have hitherto been deterred from attacking the four 
formidable volumes of which the original work consisted. 

The footnotes are sufficient to clear up all the main difficul 
ties, and only a good classical atlas is needed to make the 
narrative " live " for English readers to-day. 

The additions to the footnotes which I have ventured to make 
are enclosed in square brackets. In some dozen places or so, I 
have silently corrected a slip, or some statement which later 
researches have rendered inaccurate or doubtful, and I have 
occasionally inserted a special note on some point of interest 

The History of Herodotus 

(e.g., on Babylon/ The Battle of Marathon ); but, with 
these exceptions, the reader may feel secure that he has before 
him Rawlinson s own words. I have not even replaced Jupiter 
by Zeus, or Juno by Here (and the like), though the substitution 
of a Latin nomenclature for the names of Greek deities is an 
indefensible practice, 


December 1909. 


George Rawlinson (brother of the famous Sir Henry Rawlin- 
son, the u father of Assyriology "), born 1812, elected Fellow of 
Exeter College, Oxford, 1840; Bampton Lecturer, 1859; made 
a Canon of Canterbury, 1872; elected Camden Professor of 
Ancient History, Oxford, 1861; resigned, 1889; died, 1902, 
aged 90. 

Chief works : 

1. The History of Herodotus, in 4 vols., 1858; 4th edition, 1880. 

2. The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient East, 1862-1881. 

3. Commentary on Exodus (" Speaker s Commentary "). 

4. The History of Ph&nicia, 1889. 



[Original Dedication, 1858] 











INTRODUCTION .......... j x 


Causes of the war between Greece and Persia i. Mythic (ch. 1-5). a. 
Historic Aggressions of Croesus Previous Lydian History (6-25). 
Conquests of Croesus (26-28). Visit of Solon to the court of Croesus 
(29-33)- Story of Adrastus and Atys (34, 45). Preparations of 
Croesus against Cyrus Consultation of the oracles (46-35). Croesus 
seeks a Greek alliance Hellenes and Pelasgi (56-58). State of 
Athens under Pisistratus (59-64). Early History of Sparta (65-68). 
Alliance of Croesus with Sparta (69-70). Croesus warned (71). Croesus 
invades Cappadocia His war with Cyrus (72-85). Danger and de 
liverance of Croesus (86, 87). His advice to Cyrus (88, 89). His 
message to the Delphic oracle (90, 91). His offerings (92). Wonders 
of Lydia (93). Manners and customs of the Lydians (94). History 
of Cyrus Old Assyrian Empire Revolt of Media (95). Early Median 
History (96-107). Birth and bringing- up of Cyrus (108-122). Incite 
ments to revolt (123, 4). He sounds the feelings of the Persians 
their Ten Tribes (125, 6). Revolt and struggle (127-130). Customs 
of the Persians (131-140). Cyrus threatens the Ionian Greeks (141). 
Account of the Greek settlements in Asia (142-151). Sparta interferes 
to protect the Greeks (152). Sardis revolts and is reduced (153-7). 
Fate of Pacty as ( 1 5 8- 1 60) . Reduction of the Asiatic Greeks ( 1 6 1 - 1 70) . 
The Carians, Caunians, and Lycians attacked their customs they 
submit to the Persians (171-6). Conquests of Cyrus in Upper Asia 
( 177) . Description of Babylon (178- 1 87) . Cyrus marches on Babylon 
(188-190). Fall of Babylon (191). Description of Babylonia (192-3), 
Customs of the Babylonians (194-200). Expedition of Cyrus against 
the Massagetas (201). The River Araxes (202). The Caspian (203-4). 
Tomyris her offer to Cyrus (205, 6). Advice given by Croesus, 
adopted by Cyrus (207, 8). Dream of Cyrus (209-210). Two battles 
with the Massagetae Defeat and death of Cyrus (211-4). Manners 
and customs of the Massagetae (215) . Page i 


Accession of Cambyses he invades Egypt (ch. i). Description of Egypt 
Antiquity (2). Seats of learning (3). Inventions, etc. (4). De 
scription of the country (5-13). Agriculture (14). Boundaries (15- 


vi The History of Herodotus 

18). The Nile Causes of the inundation (19-27). Sources (28). 
The Upper Nile (29-31). The interior of Libya (32). Comparison of 
the Nile and Ister (33, 34). Customs of the Egyptians their strange 
ness (35, 36). Religious customs (37-48). Connection of the religions 
of Egypt and Greece (49-57). Egyptian Festivals (58-64). Sacred 
animals (65-67). The Crocodile (68-70). The Hippopotamus (71), 
Otters, fish, etc. (72). The Phoenix (73). Sacred and winged serpents 
(74, 75). The Ibis (76). Daily life of the Egyptians (77-80). Dress 
(81). Divination (82). Oracles (83). Practice of Medicine (84). 
Funerals (85-90). Worship of Perseus (91). Customs of the marsh- 
men (92-95). Egyptian boats (96). Routes in the flood-time (97). 
Anthylla and Archandropolis (98). History of Egypt Mn (99). 
His successors Nitocris Moeris (100, 101). Sesostris his expedi 
tions his works in Egypt (102-110). His son, Pheron (in). Proteus 
story of Helen (112-120). Rhampsinitus (122). Doctrine of metem 
psychosis (123). Cheops his pyramid (124-126). Chephren (127, 
128). Mycerinus (129-133). His pyramid history of Rhodopis (134, 
135). Asychis (136). Anysis Sabaco (137-140). Sethos invasion 
of Sennacherib x *T4i). Number of the kings (142, 143). Greek and 
Egyptian notions of the age of the gods (144-146). The Dodecarchy 
(147-152). Psammetichus (154-157). Neco, his son (158, 159). 
Psammis, son of Neco (160). Apries, son of Psammis his deposition 
(161-169). Tomb of Osiris (170). Egyptian mysteries (171). Reign 
of Amasis (172-177). His favour to the Greeks (178-182) Page no 


Causes of quarrel between Persia and Egypt Nitetis story (1-3). Aid 
lent by Phanes (4). Passage of the Desert (5-9). Invasion of Egypt 
Psammenitus king (10). Murder of the children of Phanes Battle 
of Pelusium (n). Egyptian and Persian skulls (12). Siege and 
capture of Memphis submission of the Libyans and Cyrenaeans (13). 
Treatment of Psammenitus (14, 15). Treatment of the body of Amasis 
(16). Expeditions planned by Cambyses (17, 18). Phoenicians refuse 
to attack Carthage (19). Embassy to the Ethiopians (20-24). Ex 
pedition fails (25). Failure of the expedition against Ammon (26). 
Severities of Cambyses towards the Egyptians (27-29). His out 
rageous conduct towards the Persians (30-35). His treatment of 
Croesus (36). His madness (37, 38). History of Polycrates his 
connection with Amasis (39-43). He sends ships to assist Cambyses 
(44). Revolt of the crews Samos attacked (45). Aid sought from 
Sparta and Corinth (46, 47). Story of Periander (48-53). Siege of 
Samos (54-56). Fate of the rebels (57-59). Wonders of Samos (60). 
Revolt of the Magi usurpation of the Pseudo-Smerdis (61). The 
news reaches Cambyses his wound, speech, and death (62-66). 
Reign of the Magus (67). His detection by Otanes (68, 69). Otanes 
conspires arrival of Darius (70). Debate of the conspirators (71-73). 

Contents vii 

Fate of Prexaspes (74, 75). Overthrow of the Magi (76-79). Debate 
on the best form of government (80-82). Decision of Otanes (83). 
Privileges of the Six (84). Darius obtains the kingdom (85-87). 
His wives (88). Division of the Empire into twenty Satrapies (89-93). 
Amount of the tribute (94-97). Customs of the Indians (98-105). 
Productiveness of the earth s extremities (106-116). The river 
Aces (117). Fate of Intaphernes (118, 119). Story of Oroates and 
Polycrates (120-125). Punishment of Oroetes (126-128). Democedes 
of Crotona cures Darius (129, 130). His former history (131). His 
influence he cures Atossa (132, 133). Atossa at his instigation 
requests Darius to invade Greece (134). Persians sent to explore 
the coasts Democedes escapes (135-138). Persian expedition against 
Samos to establish Syloson (139-149). Revolt, and reduction of 
Babylon by the stratagem of Zopyrus (150-158). Punishment of the 
rebels (159). Reward of Zopyrus (160) . . . Page 210 


Expedition of Darius against Scythia its pretext (i). Previous history 
of the Scythians their war with their slaves (2-4). Traditions of 
their origin i. Their own account (5-7). 2. Greek version of the 
same (8-10). 3. Account preferred by the author (n, 12). Story 
of Aristeas (13-16). Description of Scythia (17-20). Neighbouring 
nations, Sauromatae, Budini, Argippaei, Issedones, and Arimaspi 
(21-27). Climate of Scythia (28-31). Stories of the Hyperboreans 
(32-36). Universal geography i. Description of Asia (37-41). 2. 
Circumnavigation of Libya (42, 43). 3. Voyage of Scylax (44). 
Origin of the names, Europe, Asia, Libya (45). Remarkable features 
of Scythia the people (46, 47). The rivers the Ister and its affluents 
(48-50). The Tyras (51). The Hypanis (52). The Borysthenes (53). 
The Panticapes, Hypacyris, Gerrhus, Tanais, etc. (54-58). Religion 
of the Scyths Gods (59). Sacrifices (60, 61). Worship of Mars, 
etc. (62, 63). War-customs (64-66). Soothsayers (67-69). Oaths 
(70). Burial of the kings, etc. (71-73). Use of hemp (74, 75). Hatred 
of foreign customs stories of Anacharsis and Scylas (76-80). Popula 
tion (81). Marvels (82). Preparations of Darius (83-85). Size of 
the Euxine, Propontis, etc. (86). March of Darius to the Ister (87-92). 
Customs of the Thracians (93-96). Darius at the Ister (97, 98). Size 
and shape of Scythia (99-101). Description of the surrounding 
nations, Tauri, etc. (102-117). Consultation of the kings (118, 119). 
Plans of the Scyths (120). March of Darius through Scythia, and 
return to the Ister (121-140). Passage of the Ister and return to the 
Hellespont (141, 143). Saying of Megabazus (144). Libyan expedi 
tion of Aryandes Founding of Thera (145-149). Therasans required 
by the oracle to colonise Libya two accounts (150-155). Occupation 
of Platea (156). Settlement at Aziris (157). Colonisation of Cyrene 
(158). History of Cyrene from its foundation to the death of Arcesi- 

viii The History of Herodotus 

laus III. (159-164). Application of Pheretima to Aryandes (165). 
Fate of Aryandes (166). Expedition against Barca (167). Account of 
the Libyan tribes from Egypt to Lake Tritonis (168-181). The three 
regions of Northern Libya (182-185). Customs of the Libyans (186- 
190). Contrast of eastern and western Libya (191, 192). Account 
of the western tribes (193-196). Four nations of Libya (197). Pro 
ductiveness of Libya (198, 199). Account of the expedition against 
Barca (200-203). Fate of the Barcaeans (204). Death of Pheretima 



THE time at which Herodotus lived and wrote may be deter 
mined within certain limits from his History. On the one hand 
it appears that he conversed with at least one person who had 
been an eye-witness of some of the great events of the Persian 
war; on the other, that he outlived the commencement of the 
Peloponnesian struggle, and was acquainted with several cir 
cumstances which happened in the earlier portion of it. He 
must therefore have flourished in the fifth century B.C., and 
must have written portions of his history at least as late as B.C. 
430. His birth would thus fall naturally into the earlier portion 
of the century, and he would have belonged to the generation 
which came next in succession to that of the conquerors of 

It may be concluded that Herodotus was born in or about 
the year B.C. 484. Concerning the birthplace of the historian 
no reasonable doubt has ever been entertained either in ancient 
or modern times. He belonged to the town of Halicarnassus, 
a Dorian colony in Asia Minor. The all but universal testimony 
of ancient writers, the harmony of their witness with the atten 
tion given to Halicarnassus and its affairs in the history, and 
the epitaph which appears to have been engraved upon the 
historian s tomb at Thurium, form a body of proof the weight 
of which is irresistible. 

Of the parents and family of Herodotus but little can be said 
to be known. His parents names are given as Lyxes and 
Dryio (or Rhoio), and he doubtless belonged to one of the wealthy 
and noble families of the place. 

The education of Herodotus is to be judged of from his work. 
No particulars of it have come down to us. Herodotus, it may, 
however, be supposed, followed the course common in later 
times attended the grammar-school where he learnt to read 

ix A 

x The History of Herodotus 

and write, frequented the palaestra where he went through the 
exercises, and received instruction from the professional harper 
or flute-player, who conveyed to him the rudiments of music, 
But these things formed a very slight part of that education, 
which was necessary to place a Greek of the upper ranks on a 
level, intellectually, with those who in Athens and elsewhere 
gave the tone to society, and were regarded as finished gentle 
men. A knowledge of literature, and especially of poetry- 
above all an intimate acquaintance with the classic writings of 
Homer, was the one great requisite ; to which might be added a 
familiarity with philosophical systems, and a certain amount of 
rhetorical dexterity. 

Herodotus, as his writings show, was most thoroughly 
accomplished in the first and most important of these three 
things. He has drunk at the Homeric cistern till his whole 
being is impregnated with the influence thence derived. 
In the scheme and plan of his work, in the arrangement and 
order of its parts, in the tone and character of the thoughts, 
in ten thousand little expressions and words, the Homeric 
student appears ; and it is manifest that the two great poems of 
ancient Greece are at least as familiar to him as Shakspeare 
to the modern educated Englishman. Nor has this intimate 
knowledge been gained by the sacrifice of other reading. There 
is scarcely a poet of any eminence anterior to his day with whose 
works he has not shown himself acquainted. Prose composi 
tion had but commenced a very short time before the date of 
his history. Yet even here we find an acquaintance indicated 
with a number of writers, seldom distinctly named, but the 
contents of whose works are well known and familiarly dealt 
with. It may be questioned whether there was a single work of 
importance in the whole range of Greek literature accessible to 
him, with the contents of which he was not fairly acquainted. 

Such an amount of literary knowledge implies a prolonged 
and careful self-education, and is the more remarkable in the 
case of one whose active and inquisitive turn of mind seems to 
have led him at an early age to engage in travels, the extent of 
which, combined with their leisurely character, clearly shows 
that a long term of years must have been so occupied. The 
quantum of travel has indeed been generally exaggerated; but 
after every deduction is made that judicious criticism suggests 
as proper, there still remains, in the distance between the ex 
treme limits reached, and in the fulness of the information 

Introduction xi 

gained, unmistakable evidence of a vast amount of time spent 
in the occupation. Herodotus undoubtedly visited Babylon, 
Ardericca near Susa, the remoter parts of Egypt, Scythia 
Colchis, Thrace, Cyrene, Zante, Dodona, and Magna Gnecia 
thus covering with his travels a space of thirty-one degrees of 
longitude (above 1700 miles) from east to west, and of twenty- 
four of latitude (1660 miles) from north to south. Within 
these limits moreover his knowledge is for the most part close 
and accurate. He has not merely paid a hasty visit to the 
countries, but has examined them leisurely, and is familiar 
with their scenery, their cities small and large, their various 
wonders, their temples and other buildings, and with the 
manners and customs of their inhabitants. The fulness and 
minuteness of his information is even more remarkable than its 
wide range, though it has attracted less observation. 

If anything is certain with respect to the events of our author s 
career, it is that his home during the first half of his life was in 
Asia Minor, during the last in Magna Grsecia. It is clear that 
his visit to Egypt, with which some of his other journeys are 
necessarily connected, took place after the revolt of Inarus 
(B.C. 460); for he states that he saw the skulls of those who 
were slain in the great battle of Papremis by which Inarus 
established himself; and yet it could not have been long after, 
or he would scarcely have been received with so much cordiality, 
and allowed such free access to the Egyptian temples and 
records. There is every reason to conclude that his visit fell 
within the period six years, from B.C. 460 to B.C. 455, inclu 
sively during which the Athenian armies were in possession 
of the country, when gratitude to their deliverers would have 
led the Egyptians to receive any Greek who visited them with 
open arms, and to treat him with a friendliness and familiarity 
very unlike their ordinary jealousy of foreigners. His Egyptian 
travels would thus fall between his twenty-fourth and his 
twenty-ninth year. 

Suidas relates that he was forced to fly from Halicarnassus to 
Samos by the tyranny of Lygdamis, the grandson of Artemisia, 
who had put his uncle (or cousin) Panyasis to death; that in 
Samos he adopted the Ionic dialect, and wrote his history; 
that after a time he returned and took the lead in an insur 
rection whereby Halicarnassus obtained her freedom, and 
Lygdamis was driven out; that then, finding himself disliked 
by the other citizens, he quitted his country, and joined in the 

xii The History of Herodotus 

Athenian colonisation of Thurium, at which place he died and 
was buried. 

Herodotus probably continued to reside at Halicarnassus, 
taking long journeys for the purpose of historical and geo 
graphical inquiry, till towards the year B.C. 447, when, being 
about thirty-seven years of age, and having brought his work to 
a certain degree of completeness, though one far short of that 
which it reached finally, he removed to Greece Proper, and took 
up his abode at Athens. Halicarnassus, it would appear, had 
shortly before cast off her tyrants and joined the Athenian 
confederacy, so that the young author would be welcomed for 
his country s sake no less than for his own. It was in the year 
B.C. 446, if we may believe Eusebius, that a decree passed the 
Athenian assembly, whereby a reward was assigned to Hero 
dotus on account of his great historical work, which he had read 
publicly to the Athenians. 

It is not difficult to imagine the reasons which may have 
induced our author, in spite of the fascinations of its society, to 
quit Athens, and become a settler in one of her colonial de 
pendencies. At Athens he could have no citizenship; and to 
the Greek not bent on money-making, or absorbed in philosophy, 
to be without political rights, to have no share in what formed 
the daily life and occupied the constant thoughts of all around 
him, was intolerable. " Man is not a man unless he is a citizen," 
said Aristotle; and the feeling thus expressed was common to 
the Greek nation. Besides, Athens, like every capital, was an 
expensive place to live in; and the wealth which had made a 
figure at Halicarnassus would, even if it were not dissipated, 
have scarcely given a living there. The acceptance by Hero 
dotus of a sum of money from the Athenian people would seem 
to indicate that his means were now low. They may have been 
exhausted by the cost of his long journeys, or have suffered 
from his leaving Halicarnassus. At any rate his circumstances 
may well have been such as to lead him gladly to embrace the 
invitation which Athens now offered to adventurers from all 
parts of Greece, whereby he would acquire at her hands a parcel 
of land (/cA%)ov), which would place him above want, and a new 
right of citizenship. Accordingly, in the year B.C. 443, when 
he had just passed his fortieth year, Herodotus, according to 
the unanimous testimony of ancient writers, joined the colonists 
whom Pericles was now sending out to Italy, and became one of 
the first settlers at Thurium* 

Introduction xiii 

At Thurium Herodotus would seem to have devoted himself 
almost entirely to the elaboration of his work. 

At the same time he no doubt composed that separate work 
the existence of which it has been the fashion of late years to 
deny his History of Assyria. With these literary labours in 
hand, it is no wonder if Herodotus, having reached the period 
of middle life, when the fatigues of travel begin to be more 
sensibly felt, and being moreover entangled in somewhat diffi 
cult domestic politics, laid aside his wandering habits, and was 
contented to remain at Thurium without even exploring to any 
great extent the countries to which his new position gave him 
an easy access. There is no trace of his having journeyed 
further during these years than the neighbouring towns of Meta- 
pontum and Crotona, except in a single instance. He must 
have paid a visit to Athens at least as late as B.C. 436, and 
probably some years later; for he saw the magnificent Propy- 
Isea, one of the greatest of the constructions of Pericles, which 
was not commenced till B.C. 436, nor finished till five years 

The state of Thurium, while it was the abode of Herodotus, 
appears to have been one of perpetual trouble and disquiet. 
Soon afterwards a war broke out between the Thurians and the 
people of Tarentum, which was carried on both by land and sea, 
with varied success, and which probably continued during a 
space of several years. 

It is uncertain whether Herodotus lived to see all these 
vicissitudes. The place and time of his death are matters of 
controversy. The work of Herodotus, therefore, contains no 
sign that he outlived his sixtieth year, and perhaps it may be 
said that the balance of evidence is in favour of his having died 
at Thurium when he was about sixty. He would thus have 
escaped the troubles which afflicted his adopted country during 
the later portion of the Peloponnesian war, and have been 
spared the pain of seeing the state of which he was a citizen 
enrol herself among the enemies of his loved and admired 


The merits of Herodotus as a writer have never been ques 
tioned. Those who make the lowest estimate of his qualifica 
tions as an historian, are profuse in their acknowledgments of 
his beauties of composition and style, by which they consider 
that other commentators upon his work have been unduly 
biassed in his favour, and led to overrate his historical accuracy* 

xiv The History of Herodotus 

Scarcely a dissentient voice is to be found on this point among 
critical authorities, whether ancient or modern, who all agree in 
upholding our author as a model of his own peculiar order of 
composition. In the concluding portion of this notice an en 
deavour will be made to point out the special excellencies which 
justify this universal judgment, while, at the same time, atten 
tion will be drawn to certain qualifying statements whereby the 
most recent of our author s critics has lessened the effect of 
those general eulogiums which he has passed upon the literary 
merits of the History. 

The most important essential of every literary composition, 
be it poem, treatise, history, tale, or aught else, is unity. Upon 
this depends our power of viewing the composition as a whole, 
and of deriving pleasure from the grasp that we thereby obtain 
of it, as well as from our perception of the harmony and mutual 
adaptation of the parts, the progress and conduct of the argu 
ment, and the interconnection of the various portions with one 
another. In few subjects is it so difficult to secure this funda 
mental groundwork of literary excellence as in history. The 
unity furnished by mere identity of country or of race falls 
short of what is required ; and hence most general histories are 
wearisome and deficient in interest. Herodotus, by selecting 
for the subject of his work a special portion of the history of 
Greece and confining himself to the narration of events having 
a bearing, direct or indirect, upon his main topic, has obtained a 
unity of action sufficient to satisfy the most stringent demands 
of art, equal, indeed, to that which characterises the master 
pieces of the imagination. Instead of undertaking the complex 
and difficult task of writing the history of the Hellenic race 
during a given period, he sits down with the one (primary) 
object of faithfully recording the events of a particular war. It 
is not, as has been generally said, the conflict of races, the 
antagonism between Europe and Asia, nor even that antagonism 
in its culminating form the struggle between Greece and 
Persia that he puts before him as his proper subject. Had 
his views embraced this whole conflict, the Argonautic expedi 
tion,, the Trojan war, the invasion of Europe by the Teucrians 
and Mysians, the frequent incursions into Asia of the Cimmerians 
and the Treres, perhaps even the settlement of the Greeks upon 
the Asiatic shores, would have claimed their place as integral 
portions of his narrative. His absolute renunciation of some 
of these subjects, and his cursory notice or entire omission of 

Introduction xv 

others, indicate that he proposed to himself a far narrower task 
than the relation of the long course of rivalry between the 
Asiatic and European races. Nor did he even intend to give us 
an account of the entire struggle between Greece and Persia. 
His work, though not finished throughout, is concluded; and 
its termination with the return of the Greek fleet from Sestos, 
distinctly shows that it was not his object to trace the entire 
history of the Graeco-Persian struggle, since that struggle con 
tinued for thirty years afterwards with scarcely any intermis 
sion, until the arrangement known as the Peace of Callias. 
The real intention of Herodotus was to write the history of the 
Persian War of Invasion the contest which commenced with 
the first expedition of Mardonius, and terminated with the 
entire discomfiture of the vast fleet and army collected and led 
against Greece by Xerxes. The portion of his narrative which 
is anterior to the expedition of Mardonius is of the nature of an 
introduction, and in this a double design may be traced, the 
main object of the writer being to give an account of the rise, 
growth, and progress of the great Empire which had been the 
antagonist of Greece in the struggle, and his secondary aim to 
note the previous occasions whereon the two races had been 
brought into hostile contact. Both these points are connected 
intimately with the principal object of the history, the one 
being necessary in order to a correct appreciation of the great 
ness of the contest and the glory gained by those with whom 
the victory rested, and the other giving the causes from which 
the quarrel sprang, and throwing important light on the course 
of the invasion and the conduct of the invaders. 

Had Herodotus confined himself rigidly to these three inter 
connected heads of narration, the growth of the Persian Empire, 
the previous hostilities between Greece and Persia, and the 
actual conduct of the great war, his history would have been 
meagre and deficient in variety* To avoid this consequence, he 
takes every opportunity which presents itself of diverging from 
his main narrative and interweaving with it the vast stores of 
his varied knowledge, whether historical, geographical, or anti 
quarian. He thus contrived to set before his countrymen a 
general picture of the world, of its various races, and of the 
previous history of those nations which possessed one; thereby 
giving a grandeur and breadth to his work, which places it in 
the very first rank of historical compositions. At the same 
time he took care to diversify his pages by interspersing amid 

xvi The History of Herodotus 

his more serious matter tales, anecdotes, and descriptions of a 
lighter character, which are very graceful appendages to the 
main narrative, and happily relieve the gravity of its general 
tone. The variety and richness of the episodical matter in 
Herodotus forms thus one of his most striking and obvious 
characteristics, and is noticed by all critics; but in this very 
profusion there is a fresh peril, or rather a multitude of perils, 
and it may be questioned whether he has altogether escaped 
them. Episodes are dangerous to unity. They may overlay 
the main narrative and oppress it by their mere weight and 
number: they may be awkward and ill-timed, interrupting the 
thread of the narrative at improper places: or they may be in 
congruous in matter, and so break in upon the harmony which 
ought to characterise a work of art. In Herodotus the amount 
of the episodical matter is so great that these dangers are in 
creased proportionally. Nearly one-half of the work is of this 
secondary and subsidiary character. It is, however, palpable 
to every reader who possesses the mere average amount of taste 
and critical discernment, that at least the great danger has 
been escaped, and that the episodes of Herodotus, notwith 
standing their extraordinary length and number, do not injure 
the unity of his work, or unduly overcharge his narrative. This 
result, which " surprises the modern critic, has been ascribed 
with reason to " two principal causes the propriety of the 
occasion and mode in which the episodical matter is intro 
duced, and the distinctness of form and substance which the 
author has imparted to his principal masses." By the exercise 
of great care and judgment, as well as of a good deal of self- 
restraint in these two respects, Herodotus has succeeded in 
completely subordinating his episodes to his main subject, and 
has prevented them from entangling, encumbering, or even 
unpleasantly interrupting the general narrative. 

Next in order to the epic unity in plan displayed in his history, 
and rich yet well-arranged and appropriate episode, both of 
which the work of Herodotus seems to possess in a high degree, 
may be mentioned the excellency of his character-drawing, 
which, whether nations or individuals are its object, is remark 
ably successful and effective. His portraiture of the principal 
nations with which his narrative is concerned the Persians, 
the Athenians, and the Spartans is most graphic and striking. 
Brave, lively, spirited, capable of sharp sayings and repartees, 
but vain, weak, impulsive, and hopelessly servile towards their 

Introduction xvii 

lords, the ancient Persians stand out in his pages as completely 
depicted by a few masterly strokes as their modern descendants 
have been by the many touches of a Chardin or a Morier. 
Clearly marked out from other barbarian races by a lightness 
and sprightliness of character, which brought them near to the 
Hellenic type, yet vividly contrasted with the Greeks by their 
passionate abandon and slavish submission to the caprices of 
despotic power, they possess in the pages of Herodotus an in 
dividuality which is a guarantee of truth, and which serves very 
remarkably to connect them with that peculiar Oriental people 
the " Frenchmen of the East," as they have been called at 
present inhabiting their country. Active, vivacious, intelligent, 
sparkling, even graceful, but without pride or dignity, supple, 
sycophantic, always either tyrant or slave, the modern Persian 
contrasts strongly with the other races of the East, who are 
either rude, bold, proud, and freedom-loving, like the Kurds and 
Afghans, or listless and apathetic, like the Hindoos. This 
curious continuity of character, which however is not without a 
parallel, very strongly confirms the truthfulness of our author, 
who is thus shown, even in what might seem to be the mere 
ornamental portion of his work, to have confined himself to a 
representation of actual realities. 

To the Persian character that of the Greeks offers, in many 
points, a strong contrast a contrast which is most clearly seen 
in that form of the Greek character which distinguished the 
races of the Doric stock, and attained its fullest development 
among the Spartans. Here again the picture drawn by Hero 
dotus exhibits great power and skill. By a small number of 
carefully-managed touches, by a few well-chosen anecdotes, and 
by occasional terse remarks, he contrives to set the Spartans 
before us, both as individuals and as a nation, more graphically 
than perhaps any other writer. Their pride and independent 
spirit, their entire and willing submission to their laws, their 
firmness and solidity as troops, their stern sententiousness, 
relieved by a touch of humour, are vividly displayed in his 
narrative. At the same time he does not shrink ^om showing 
the dark side of their character. The selfishness, backwardness, 
and over-caution of their public policy, their cunning and 
duplicity upon occasion, their inability to resist corrupting 
influences and readiness to take bribes, their cruelty and entire 
want of compassion, whether towards friend or foe, are all dis 
tinctly noted, and complete a portrait not more striking in its 
1 405 * A 

xviii The History of Herodotus 

features than consonant with all that we know from other 
sources of the leading people of Greece. 

Similar fidelity and descriptive power are shown in the 
picture which he gives us of the Athenians. Like the Spartans, 
they are independent and freedom-loving^ brave and skilful in 
war, patriotic, and, from the time that they obtain a form of 
government suited to their wants, fondly attached to it. Like 
them, too, they are cruel and unsparing towards their adver 
saries. Unlike them, they are open in their public policy, 
active and enterprising almost to rashness, impulsive and so 
changeable in their conduct, vain rather than proud, as troops 
possessing more dash than firmness, in manners refined and 
elegant; witty, hospitable, magnificent, fond of display, capable 
upon occasion of greater moderation and self-denial than most 
Greeks, and even possessing to a certain extent a generous spirit 
of Pan-Hellenism. Herodotus, in his admiration of the ser 
vices rendered by the Athenians to the common cause during 
the great war, has perhaps over-estimated their pretensions to 
this last quality ; at least it will be found that enlightened self- 
interest sufficiently explains their conduct during that struggle ; 
and circumstances occurring both before and after it clearly 
show, that they had no scruples about calling in the Persians 
against their own countrymen when they expected to gain by 
it. It ought not to be forgotten in any estimate of the Athenian 
character, that they set the example of seeking aid from Persia 
against their Hellenic enemies. The circumstances of the time 
no doubt were trying, and the resolve not to accept aid at the 
sacrifice of their independence was worthy of their high spirit as 
a nation; but still the fact remains, % that the common enemy 
first learnt through the invitation of Athens how much she had 
to hope from the internal quarrels and mutual jealousies of the 
Greek states. 

In depicting other nations besides these three who play the 
principal parts in his story Herodotus has succeeded best with 
the varieties of barbarism existing upon the outskirts of the 
civilised world, and least well with those nations among whom 
refinement and cultivation were at the highest. He seems to 
have experienced a difficulty in appreciating any other phase of 
civilisation than that which had been developed by the Greeks. 
His portraiture of the Egyptians, despite its elaborate finish, is 
singularly ineffective; while in the case of the Lydians and 
Babylonians, he scarcely presents us with any distinctive national 

Introduction xix 

features. On the other hand, his pictures of the Scythians, the 
Thracians, and the wild tribes of Northern Africa, are exceed 
ingly happy, the various forms of barbarism being well con 
trasted and carefully distinguished from one another. 

Among the individuals most effectively portrayed by our 
author, may be mentioned the four Persian monarchs with 
whom his narrative is concerned, the Spartan kings, Cleomenes, 
Leonidas, and Pausanias, the Athenian statesmen and generals, 
Themistocles and Aristides, the tyrants Periander, Polycrates, 
Pisistratus, and Histiaeus the Milesian, Amasis the Egyptian 
king, and Crcesus of Lydia. The various shades of Oriental 
character and temperament have never been better depicted 
than in the representation given by Herodotus of the first four 
Achaemenian kings Cyrus, the simple, hardy, vigorous moun 
tain chief, endowed with a vast ambition and with great military 
genius, changing, as his empire enlarged, into the kind and 
friendly paternal monarch clement, witty, polite, familiar with 
his people; Cambyses, the first form of the Eastern tyrant, 
inheriting his father s vigour and much of his talent, but spoilt 
by the circumstances of his birth and breeding, violent, rash, 
headstrong, incapable of self-restraint, furious at opposition, not 
only cruel but brutal ; Darius, the model Oriental prince, brave, 
sagacious, astute, great in the arts both of war and peace, the 
organiser and consolidator as well as the extender of the empire, 
a man of kind and warm feeling, strongly attached to his 
friends, clement and even generous towards conquered foes, 
only severe upon system where the well-being of the empire 
required an example to be made; and Xerxes, the second and 
inferior form of the tyrant, weak and puerile as well as cruel 
and selfish, fickle, timid, licentious, luxurious, easily worked on 
by courtiers and women, superstitious, vainglorious, destitute of 
all real magnanimity, only upon occasion ostentatiously parad 
ing a generous act when nothing had occurred to ruffle his feel 
ings. Nor is Herodotus less successful in his Hellenic portraits. 
Themistocles is certainly better drawn by Herodotus than by 
Thucydides. His political wisdom and clearsightedness, his wit 
and ready invention, his fertility in expedients, his strong love 
of intrigue, his curious combination of patriotism with selfish 
ness, his laxity of principle amounting to positive dishonesty, 
are all vividly exhibited, and form a whole which is at once 
more graphic and more complete than the sketch furnished by 
the Attic writer. The character of Aristides presents a new 

xx The History of Herodotus 

point for admiration in the skill with which it is hit off 
with the fewest possible touches. Magnanimous, disinterestedly 
patriotic, transcending all his countrymen in excellence of moral 
character and especially in probity, the simple straightforward 
statesman comes before us on a single occasion, and his features 
are portrayed without effort in a few sentences. In painting 
the Greek tyrants, whom he so much detested, Herodotus has 
resisted the temptation of representing them all in the darkest 
colours, and has carefully graduated his portraits from the 
atrocious cruelties and horrible outrages of Periander to the 
wise moderation and studied mildness of Pisistratus. The 
Spartan character, again, is correctly given under its various 
aspects, Leonidas being the idealised type of perfect Spartan 
heroism, while Pausanias is a more ordinary specimen of their 
nobler class of mind, brave and generous, but easily wrought 
upon by corrupting influences, Cleomenes and Eurybiades being 
representatives of the two forms of evil to which Spartans were 
most prone, Eurybiades weak, timorous, vacillating, and in 
capable; Cleomenes cruel, false, and violent, both alike open 
to take bribes, and ready to sacrifice the interests of the state to 
their own selfish ends. 

To his skill in character-drawing Herodotus adds a power of 
pathos in which few writers, whether historians or others, have 
been his equals. The stories of the wife of Intaphernes weeping 
and lamenting continually at the king s gate, of Psammenitus 
sitting in the suburb and seeing his daughter employed in servile 
offices and his son led to death, yet " showing no sign," but 
bursting into tears when an old friend accosted him and asked 
an alms; of Lycophron silently and sadly enduring every 
thing rather than hold converse with a father who had slain his 
mother, and himself suffering for his father s cruelties at the 
moment when a prosperous career seemed about to open on 
him, are examples of this excellence within the compass of a 
single book which it would be difficult to parallel from the 
entire writings of any other historical author. But the most 
eminent instance of the merit in question is to be found in the 
story of Croesus. It has been well observed that " the volume 
of popular romance contains few more beautifully told tales 
than that of the death of Atys ; and the praise might be ex 
tended to the whole narrative of the life of Croesus from the 
visit of Solon to the scene upon the pyre, which is a master 
piece of pathos, exhibiting tragic power of the highest order, 

Introduction xxi 

The same power is exhibited in a less degree in the stories of 
the siege of Xanthus, of Tomyris, of GEobazus, of Pythius, of 
Boges, and of Masistes. In the last of these cases, and perhaps 
in one or two others, the horrible has somewhat too large a 
share; in all, however, the pathetic is an important and well- 
developed element. 

It has been maintained that Herodotus, though excellent in 
tragic scenes, was " deficient in the sense of the comic properly 
so called." His " good stories " and " clever sayings " are 
thought to be " not only devoid of true wit, but among the most 
insipid of his anecdotical details." The correctness of this judg 
ment may be questioned, not only on the general ground that 
tragic and comic power go together, but by an appeal to fact- 
the experimtntum crucis in such a case. It is, of course, not to 
be expected in a grave and serious production like a history, 
that humorous features should be of frequent occurrence: the 
author s possession of the quality of humour will be sufficiently 
shown if even occasionally he diversifies his narrative by anec 
dotes or remarks of a ludicrous character. Now in the work of 
Herodotus there are several stories of which the predominant 
characteristic is the humorous; as, very palpably, the tale of 
Alcmseon s visit to the treasury of Crcesus, when, having 
" clothed himself in a loose tunic, which he made to bag greatly 
at the waist, and placed upon his feet the widest buskins that he 
could anywhere find, he followed his guide into the treasure- 
house," where he " fell to upon a heap of gold-dust, and in the 
first place packed as much as he could inside his buskins 
between them and his legs, after which he filled the breast of his 
tunic quite full of gold, and then sprinkling some among his 
hair, and taking some likewise in his mouth, came forth from 
the treasure-house scarcely able to drag his legs along, like any 
thing rather than a man, with his mouth crammed full, and his 
bulk increased every way." The laughter of Crcesus at the 
sight is echoed by the reader, who has presented to him a most 
ridiculous image hit off with wonderful effect, and poeticised by 
the touch of imagination, which regards the distorted form as 
having lost all semblance of humanity. It would be impossible 
to deny to Herodotus the possession of a sense of the comic if 
he had confined himself to this single exhibition of it. 

Perhaps the most attractive feature in the whole work of 
Herodotus that which prevents us from ever feeling weariness 
as we follow him through the nine books of his history is the 

xxii The History of Herodotus 

wonderful variety in which he deals. Not only historian, but 
geographer, traveller, naturalist, mythologer, moralist, anti 
quarian, he leads us from one subject to another, 

From grave to gay, from lively to severe, 

never pursuing his main narrative for any long time without 
the introduction of some agreeable episodical matter, rarely 
carrying an episodical digression to such an extent as to be any 
severe trial to our patience. Even as historian, the respect in 
which he especially excels other writers is the diversity of his 
knowledge. Contriving to bring almost the whole known world 
within the scope of his story, and throwing everywhere a retro 
spective glance at the earliest beginnings of states and empires, 
he exhibits before our eyes a sort of panoramic view of history, 
in which past and present, near and remote, civilised kingdoms 
and barbarous communities, kings, priests, sages, lawgivers, 
generals, courtiers, common men, have all their place a place 
at once skilfully assigned and properly apportioned to their re 
spective claims on our attention. Blended, moreover, with this 
profusion of historic matter are sketches of religions, graphic 
descriptions of countries, elaborate portraitures of the extremes 
of savage and civilised life, striking moral reflections, curious 
antiquarian and philosophical disquisitions, legends, anecdotes, 
criticisms not all perhaps equally happy, but all serving the 
purpose of keeping alive the reader s interest, and contributing 
to the general richness of effect by which the work is charac 
terised. Again, most remarkable is the variety of styles which 
are assumed, with almost equal success, in the descriptions and 
anecdotes. The masterly treatment of pathetic subjects, and 
the occasional indulgence, with good effect, in a comic vein, 
have been already noticed. Equal power is shown in dealing 
with such matters as are tragic without being pathetic, as in the 
legend of Gyges, the story of the death of Cyrus, the description 
of the self-destruction of Cleomenes, and, above all, in the 
striking scene which portrays the last moments of Prexaspes. 
In this, and in his account of the death of Adrastus, Herodotus 
has, if anywhere, reached the sublime. Where his theme is 
lower, he has a style peculiarly his own, which seems to come 
to him without effort, yet which is most difficult of attainment. 
It is simple without being homely, familiar without being 
vulgar, lively without being forced or affected. Of this, re 
markable and diversified specimens will be found in the history 

Introduction xxiii 

of the birth and early years of Cyrus, and in the tale which 
reads like a story in the Arabian Nights of the thieves who 
plundered the treasury of Rhampsinitus. Occasionally he ex 
hibits another power which is exceedingly rare that, namely, 
of representing the grotesque. The story of Arion has a touch 
of this quality, which is more fully displayed in the account of 
the funeral rites of the Scythian kings. Still more remarkable, 
and still more important in its bearing on the general effect of 
his work, is the dramatic power, so largely exhibited in the 
abundant dialogues and in the occasional set speeches where 
with his narrative is adorned, which by their contrast with the 
ordinary historical form, and their intrinsic excellence generally, 
tend more perhaps than any other single feature to enliven his 
pages, and to prevent the weariness which is naturally caused 
by the uniformity of continued narration. 

Another excellence of Herodotus is vivid description, or the 
power of setting before us graphically and distinctly that which 
he desires us to see. This faculty however he does not exhibit 
equally in all subjects. Natural scenery, in common with the 
ancients generally, he for the most part neglects; and his 
descriptions of the great works constructed by the labour of 
man, although elaborate, fail in conveying to the minds of his 
readers any very distinct impression of their appearance. The 
power in question is shown chiefly in his accounts of remarkable 
events or actions, which portions of his narrative have often all 
the beauty and distinctness of pictures. Gyges in the bed 
chamber of Candaules, Arion on the quarter-deck chanting the 
Orthian, Cleobis and Bito arriving at the temple of Juno, 
Adrastus delivering himself up to Croesus, Alcmseon coming 
forth from the treasure-house, are pictures of the simplest and 
most striking kind, presenting to us at a single glance a scene 
exactly suited to form a subject for a painter. Sometimes, how 
ever, the description is more complex and continuous. The 
charge of the Athenians at Marathon, the various contests and 
especially the final struggle at Thermopylae, the conflict in the 
royal palace at Susa between the Magi and the seven con 
spirators, the fight between Onesilus and Artybius, the exploits 
of Artemisia at Salamis, the death of Masistius and the conten 
tion for his body, are specimens of excellent description of the 
more complicated kind, wherein not a single picture, but a suc 
cession of pictures, is exhibited before the eyes of the reader. 
These descriptions possess all the energy, life, and power of 

xxiv The History of Herodotus 

Homeric scenes and battles, and are certainly not surpassed in 
the compositions of any prose writer. 

The most obvious merit of our author, and the last which 
seems to require special notice, is his simplicity. The natural 
flow of narrative and sentiment throughout his work, the pre 
dominant use of common and familiar words, the avoidance of 
all meretricious ornament and rhetorical artifice, have often 
been remarked, and have won the approbation of almost all 
critics. With Herodotus composition is not an art, but a spon 
taneous outpouring. He does not cultivate graces of style, or 
consciously introduce fine passages. He writes as his subject 
leads him, rising with it, but never transcending the modesty of 
nature, or approaching to the confines of bombast. Not only 
are his words simple and common, but the structure of his 
sentences is of the least complicated kind. He writes, as 
Aristotle observes, not in laboured periods, but in sentences 
which have a continuous flow, and which only end when the 
sense is complete. Hence the wonderful clearness and trans 
parency of his style, which is never involved, never harsh or 
forced, and which rarely allows the shadow of a doubt to rest 
upon his meaning. 

The same spirit, which thus affects his language and mode of 
expression, is apparent in the whole tone and conduct of the 
narrative. Everything is plainly and openly related; there is 
no affectation of mystery; we are not tantalised by obscure 
allusions or hints; the author freely and fully admits us to his 
confidence, is not afraid to mention himself and his own impres 
sions ; introduces us to his informants ; tells us plainly what he 
saw and what he heard ; allows us to look into his heart, where 
there is nothing that he needs to hide, and to become sharers 
alike in his religious sentiments, his political opinions, and his 
feelings of sympathy or antipathy towards the various persons 
or races that he is led to mention. Hence the strong personal 
impression of the writer which we derive from his work, whereby, 
despite the meagre notices that remain to us of his life, we are 
made to feel towards him as towards an intimate acquaintance, 
and to regard ourselves as fully entitled to canvass and discuss 
all his qualities, moral as well as intellectual. The candour, 
honesty, amiability, piety, and patriotism of Herodotus, his 
primitive cast of mind and habits, his ardent curiosity, his 
strong love of the marvellous, are familiar topics with his com 
mentators, who find his portrait drawn by himself with as much 

Introduction xxv 

completeness (albeit unconsciously) in his writings, as those of 
other literary men have been by their professed biographers. 
All this is done moreover without the slightest affectation, or 
undue intrusion of his own thoughts and opinions; it is the 
mere result of his not thinking about himself, and is as far 
removed from the ostentatious display of Xenophon as from 
the studied concealment of Thucydides. 

While the language, style, sentiments, and tone of narrative 
in Herodotus are thus characterised, if we compare him with 
later writers, by a natural simplicity and freedom from effort, 
which constitute to a considerable extent the charm of his 
writing, it is important to observe how greatly in all these 
respects he is in advance of former prose authors. Justice is 
not done to his merits unless some attention be given to the 
history of prose composition before his time, and something like 
a comparison instituted between him and his predecessors. 
With Herodotus simplicity never degenerates into baldness, or 
familiarity into what is rude and coarse. His style is full, free, 
and flowing, and offers a most agreeable contrast to the stiff 
conciseness, curt broken sentences, and almost unvaried con 
struction, of previous historians. If we glance our eye over the 
fragments of the early Greek writers that have come down to 
our times, we shall be surprised to find how rude and primitive, 
how tame, bald, and spiritless the productions appear to have 
been, even of the most celebrated historians anterior to, or con 
temporary with, our author. A comparison between the style 
of Herodotus and the style of writing customary in his day 
would furnish us with a tolerably accurate means of estimating 
the interval which separated Herodotus, as a writer, from those 
who had preceded him an interval so great as to render the 
style of composition which he invented a sort of new art, and to 
entitle him to the honourable appellation, which prescription 
has made indisputably his, of the " Father of History," 



Sayce s ed. of books i.-iii. (but to be used with caution). 
Macan s ed. of books iv.-ix. (1892-1908). Admirable; and indispensable 
for the advanced student. 

Bury s Ancient Greek Historians (1909) pp. 36-74. A valuable piece of 

Studies in Herodotus, by J. Wells (1923); Herodotus, by R. Glover 

xxvi The History of Herodotus 


ist edition, Aldine, Venice, September, MDII. 

ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS: Barnaby Rich, 1584 (first two Books); Isaac 
Littlebury, 1709; W. Beloe, 1791, 2nd edition, 1806; with notes from 
Larcher and Rennell, 1824; P. E. Laurent, from Gais ford s text, 1827; 
Isaac Taylor, 1829; H. Gary, 1849 (Bohn), and Lubbock s Hundred 
Books, No. i; G. Rawiinson, assisted by Sir H. Rawlinson and Sir J. G. 
Wilkinson, 1858-60; with abridged notes (A. J. Grant), 1897; G. C. 
Macaulay, 1890; G. Woodroufie Harris, New Classical Library, 1906-7. 




THESE are the researches of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, 1 which 
he publishes, in the hope of thereby preserving from decay the 
remembrance of what men have done, and of preventing the 
great and wonderful actions of the Greeks and the Barbarians 
from losing their due meed of glory ; and withal to put on record 
what were their grounds of feud. 

i. According to the Persians best informed in history, the 
Phoenicians began the quarrel. This people, who had formerly 
dwelt on the shores of the Erythrsean Sea, 2 having migrated to 
the Mediterranean and settled in the parts which they now 
inhabit, began at once, they say, to adventure on long voyages, 
freighting their vessels with the wares of Egypt and Assyria. 
They landed at many places on the coast, and among the rest 
at Argos, which was then pre-eminent above all the states in 
cluded now under the common name of Hellas. 3 Here they 
exposed their merchandise, and traded with the natives for five 
or six days ; at the end of which time, when almost everything 
was sold, there came down to the beach a number of women, 
and among them the daughter of the king, who was, they say, 
agreeing in this with the Greeks, lo, the child of Inachus. The 
women were standing by the stern of the ship intent upon their 
purchases, when the Phoenicians, with a general shout, rushed 
upon them. The greater part made their escape, but some 
were seized and carried off. lo herself was among the captives. 
The Phoenicians put the women on board their vessel, and set 

1 The mention of the author s name and country in the first sentence of 
his history seems to have been usual in the age in which Herodotus wrote. 

1 By the Erythraean Sea Herodotus intends, not our Red Sea, which he 
calls the Arabian Gulf (/CO XTTOS A/>a/3ios), but the Indian Ocean, or rather 
both the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, which latter he does not 
consider distinct from the Ocean, being ignorant of its shape. 

8 The ancient superiority of Argos is indicated by the position of Aga 
memnon at the time of the Trojan war (compare Thucyd. i. 9-10), and by 
the use of the word Argive in Homer for Greek generally. No other name 
of a single people is used in the same generic way. 


2 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

sail for Egypt. Thus did lo pass into Egypt, according to the 
Persian story, 1 which differs widely from the Phoenician : and thus 
commenced, according to their authors, the series of outrages. 

2. At a later period, certain Greeks, with whose name they 
are unacquainted, but who would probably be Cretans, 2 made a 
landing at Tyre, on the Phoenician coast, and bore off the king s 
daughter, .Europe. In this they only retaliated; but after 
wards the Greeks, they say, were guilty of a second violence. 
They manned a ship of war, and sailed to ^Sa, a city of Colchis, 
on the river Phasis ; from whence, after despatching the rest of 
the business on which they had come, they carried off Medea, 
the daughter of the king of the land. The monarch sent a 
herald into Greece to demand reparation of the wrong, and the 
restitution of his child; but the Greeks made answer, that 
having received no reparation of the wrong done them in the 
seizure of lo the Argive, they should give none in this instance. 

3. In the next generation afterwards, according to the same 
authorities, Alexander the son of Priam, bearing these events 
in mind, resolved to procure himself a wife out of Greece by 
violence, fully persuaded, that as the Greeks had not given 
satisfaction for their outrages, so neither would he be forced 
to make any for his. Accordingly he made prize of Helen; 
upon which the Greeks decided that, before resorting to other 
measures, they would send envoys to reclaim the princess and 
require reparation of the wrong. Their demands were met by 
a reference to the violence which had been offered to Medea, 
and they were asked with what face they could now require 
satisfaction, when they had formerly rejected all demands for 
either reparation or restitution addressed to them. 3 

1 The name, thus first brought before us in its Asiatic form, may perhaps 
furnish an astronomical solution for the entire fable; for as the wanderings 
of the Greek lo have been often compared with the erratic course of the 
moon in the heavens, passing in succession through all the signs of the 
zodiac, so do we find that in the ante-Semitic period there was also an 
identity of name, the Egyptian title of the moon being Yah, and the 
primitive Chaldaean title being represented by a Cuneiform sign, which is 
phonetically At, as in modern Turkish. 

2 Since no other Greeks were thought to have possessed a navy in these 
early times. 

3 Aristophanes in the Acharnians (488-494) very wittily parodies the 
opening of Herodotus s history. Professing to give the causes of the 
Peloponnesian war, he says: 

" This was nothing, 

Smacking too much of our accustomed manner 
To give offence. But here, sirs, was the rub : 
Some sparks of ours, hot with the grape, had stoPn 

CHAP. 2-5. The Story of lo 

4. Hitherto the injuries on either side had been mere acts of 
common violence; but m what followed the Persians consider 
that the Greeks were greatly to blame, since before any attack 
had been made on Europe, they led an army into Asia. Now 
as for the carrying off of women, it is the deed, they say, of a 
rogue ; but to make a stir about such as are carried off, argues 
a man a fool. Men of sense care nothing for such women, since 
it is plain that without their own consent they would never be 
forced away. The Asiatics, when the Greeks ran off with their 
women, never troubled themselves about the matter; but the 
Greeks, for the sake of a single Lacedaemonian girl, collected a 
vast armament, invaded Asia, and destroyed the kingdom of 
Priam. Henceforth they ever looked upon the Greeks as their 
open enemies. For Asia, with all the various tribes of bar 
barians that inhabit it, is regarded by the Persians as their own; 
but Europe and the Greek race they look on as distinct and 
separate. 1 

5. Such is the account which the Persians give of these 
matters. 2 They trace to the attack upon Troy their ancient 
enmity towards the Greeks. The Phoenicians, however, as 
regards lo, vary from the Persian statements. They deny that 
they used any violence to remove her into Egypt; she herself, 
they say, having formed an intimacy with the captain, while his 
vessel lay at Argos, and perceiving herself to be with child, of 
her own freewill accompanied the Phoenicians on their leaving 
the shore, to escape the shame of detection and the reproaches 
of her parents. Whether this latter account be true, or whether 
the matter happened otherwise, I shall not discuss further. I 

A mistress of the game Simaetha named 
From the Megarians : her doughty townsmen 
(For the deed moved no small extent of anger) 
Reveng d the affront upon Aspasia s train, 
And bore away a brace of her fair damsels. 
All Greece anon gave note of martial prelude. 
And what the cause of war? marry, three women." 

MITCHELL, p. 70-2. 

This is the earliest indication of a knowledge of the work of Herodotus 
on the part of any other Greek writer. 

1 The claim made by the Persians to the natural lordship of Asia was 
convenient as furnishing them with pretexts for such wars as it suited 
their policy to engage in with non- Asiatic nations. 

2 It is curious to observe the treatment which the Greek myths met 
with at the hands of foreigners. The Oriental mind, quite unable to 
appreciate poetry of such a character, stripped the legends bare of all 
that beautified them, and then treated them, thus vulgarised, as matters 
of simple history. 

4 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

shall proceed at once to point out the person who first within 
my own knowledge inflicted injury on the Greeks, after which I 
shall go forward with my history, describing equally the greater 
and the lesser cities. For the cities which were formerly great, 
have most of them become insignificant; and such as are at 
present powerful, were weak in the olden time. 1 I shall there 
fore discourse equally of both, convinced that human happiness 
never continues long in one stay. 

6. Croesus, son of Alyattes, by birth a Lydian, was lord of 
all the nations to the west of the river Halys. This stream, 
which separates Syria 2 from Paphlagonia, runs with a course 
from south to north, and finally falls into the Euxine. So far 
as our knowledge goes, he was the first of the barbarians who 
had dealings with the Greeks, forcing some of them to become 
his tributaries, and entering into alliance with others. He con 
quered the ^Eolians, lonians, and Dorians of Asia, and made a 
treaty with the Lacedaemonians. Up to that time all Greeks 
had been free. For the Cimmerian attack upon Ionia, which 
was earlier than Croesus, was not a conquest of the cities, but 
only an inroad for plundering. 

7. The sovereignty of Lydia, which had belonged to the 
Heraclides, passed into the family of Croesus, who were called 
the Mermnadse, in the manner which I will now relate. There 
was a certain king of Sardis, Candaules by name, whom the 
Greeks called Myrsilus. He was a descendant of Alcseus, son 
of Hercules. The first king of this dynasty was Agron, son of 
Ninus, grandson of Belus, and great-grandson of Alcseus; Can 
daules, son of Myrsus, was the last. The kings who reigned 
before Agron sprang from Lydus, son of Atys, from whom the 
people of the land, called previously Meonians, received the 
name of Lydians. The Heraclides, descended from Hercules 
and the slave-girl of Jardanus, having been entrusted by these 
princes with the management of affairs, obtained the kingdom 
by an oracle. Their rule endured for two and twenty genera 
tions of men, a space of five hundred and five years; 3 during 

1 Thucydides remarks on the small size to which Mycenae had dwindled 
compared with its former power (i. 10). 

* By Syria Herodotus here means Cappadocia, the inhabitants of which he 
calls Syrians (i. 72, and vii. 72), or Cappadocian Syrians (Evplovs KaTnraSo- 
KO,S i- 72). Herodotus regards the words Syria and Assyria, Syrians and 
Assyrians, as in reality the same (vii. 63); in his use of them, however, 
as ethnic appellatives, he always carefully distinguishes. 

3 Herodotus professes to count three generations to the century (ii. 142), 
thus making the generation 33$ years. In this case the average of the 
generations is but 23 years. 

CHAP, 6-10. Legend of Gyges r 

the whole of which period, from Agron to Candaules, the crown 
descended in the direct line from father to son. 

8. Now it happened that this Candaules was in love with his 
own wife ; and not only so, but thought her the fairest woman 
in the whole world. This fancy had strange consequences. 
There was in his body-guard a man whom he specially favoured, 
Gyges, the son of Dascylus. All affairs of greatest moment 
were entrusted by Candaules to this person, and to him he was 
wont to extol the surpassing beauty of his wife. So matters 
went on for a while. At length, one day, Candaules, who was 
fated to end ill, thus addressed his follower: " I see thou dost 
not credit what I tell thee of my lady s loveliness; but come 
now, since men s ears are less credulous than their eyes, con 
trive some means whereby thou mayst behold her naked." At 
this the other loudly exclaimed, saying, " What most unwise 
speech is this, master, which thou hast uttered ? Wouldst thou 
have me behold my mistress when she is naked ? Bethink thee 
that a woman, with her clothes, puts off her bashfulness. Our 
fathers, in time past, distinguished right and wrong plainly 
enough, and it is our wisdom to submit to be taught by them. 
There is an old saying, Let each look on his own/ I hold thy 
wife for the fairest of all womankind. Only, I beseech thee, 
ask me not to do wickedly." 

9. Gyges thus endeavoured to decline the king s proposal, 
trembling lest some dreadful evil should befall him through it. 
But the king replied to him, ( c Courage, friend ; suspect me not 
of the design to prove thee by this discourse; nor dread thy 
mistress, lest mischief befall thee at her hands. Be sure I will 
so manage that she shall not even know that thou hast looked 
upon her. I will place thee behind the open door of the chamber 
in which we sleep. When I enter to go to rest she will follow 
me. There stands a chair close to the entrance, on which she 
will lay her clothes one by one as she takes them off. Thou 
wilt be able thus at thy leisure to peruse her person. Then, 
when she is moving from the chair toward the bed, and her 
back is turned on thee, be it thy care that she see thee not as 
thou passest through the doorway." 

10. Gyges, unable to escape, could but declare his readiness. 
Then Candaules, when bedtime came, led Gyges into his sleep 
ing-chamber, and a moment after the queen followed. She 
entered, and laid her garments on the chair, and Gyges gazed 
on her. After a while she moved toward the bed, and her back 

6 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

being then turned, he glided stealthily from the apartment. 
As he was passing out, however, she saw him, and instantly 
divining what had happened, she neither screamed as her shame 
impelled her, nor even appeared to have noticed aught, pur 
posing to take vengeance upon the husband who had so affronted 
her. For among the Lydians, and indeed among the barbarians 
generally, it is reckoned a deep disgrace, even to a man, to be 
seen naked. 1 

11. No sound or sign of intelligence escaped her at the time. 
But in the morning, as soon as day broke, she hastened to choose 
from among her retinue, such as she knew to be most faithful 
to her, and preparing them for what was to ensue, summoned 
Gyges into her presence. Now it had often happened before 
that the queen had desired to confer with him, and he was 
accustomed to come to her at her call. He therefore obeyed 
the summons, not suspecting that she knew aught of what had 
occurred. Then she addressed these words to him : " Take thy 
choice, Gyges, of two courses which are open to thee. Slay 
Candaules, and thereby become my lord, and obtain the Lydian 
throne, or die this moment in his room. So wilt thou not again, 
obeying all behests of thy master, behold what is not lawful for 
thee. It must needs be, that either he perish by whose counsel 
this thing was done, or thou, who sawest me naked, and so 
didst break our usages." At these words Gyges stood awhile 
in mute astonishment; recovering after a time, he earnestly 
besought the queen that she would not compel him to so hard 
a choice. But finding he implored in vain, and that necessity 
was indeed laid on him to kill or to be killed, he made choice 
of life for himself, and replied by this inquiry : " If it must be 
so, and thou compellest me against my will to put my lord to 
death, come, let me hear how thou wilt have me set on him." 

1 Let him be attacked," she answered, " on that spot where I 
was by him shown naked to you, and let the assault be made 
when he is asleep." 

12. All was then prepared for the attack, and when night 
fell, Gyges, seeing that he had no retreat or escape, but must 
absolutely either slay Candaules, or himself be slain, followed 
his mistress into the sleeping-room. She placed a dagger in his 
hand, and hid him carefully behind the self-same door. Then 

1 The contrast between the feelings of the Greeks and the barbarians on 
this point is noted by Thucydides (i. 6), where we learn that the exhibition 
of the naked person was recent, even with the Greeks. 

CHAP. 11-14. Accession of Gyges 7 

Gyges, when the king was fallen asleep, entered privily into the 
chamber and struck him dead. Thus did the wife and kingdom 
of Candaules pass into the possession of Gyges, of whom Archi- 
lochus the Parian, who lived about the same time, 1 made 
mention in a poem written in Iambic trimeter verse. 

13. Gyges was afterwards confirmed in the possession of the 
throne by an answer of the Delphic oracle. Enraged at the 
murder of their king, the people flew to arms, but after a while 
the partisans of Gyges came to terms with them, and it was 
agreed that if the Delphic oracle declared him king of the 
Lydians, he should reign; if otherwise, he should yield the 
throne to the Heraclides. As the oracle was given in his favour 
he became king. The Pythoness, however, added that, in the 
fifth generation from Gyges, vengeance should come for the 
Heraclides; a prophecy of which neither the Lydians nor their 
princes took any account till it was fulfilled. Such was the 
way in which the Mermnadae deposed the Heraclides, and 
themselves obtained the sovereignty. 

14. When Gyges was established on the throne, he sent no 
small presents to Delphi, as his many silver offerings at the 
Delphic shrine testify. Besides this silver he gave a vast 
number of vessels of gold, among which the most worthy of 
mention are the goblets, six in number, and weighing altogether 
thirty talents, which stand in the Corinthian treasury, dedicated 
by him. I call it the Corinthian treasury, though in strictness 
of speech it is the treasury not of the whole Corinthian people, 
but of Cypselus, son of Eetion. Excepting Midas, son of 
Gordias, 2 king of Phrygia, Gyges was the first of the barbarians 
whom we know to have sent offerings to Delphi. Midas dedi 
cated the royal throne whereon he was accustomed to sit and 
administer justice, an object well worth looking at. It lies in 
the same place as the goblets presented by Gyges. The Del- 
phians call the whole of the silver and the gold which Gyges 
dedicated, after the name of the donor, Gygian. 

As soon as Gyges was king he made an inroad on Miletus and 
Smyrna, and took the city of Colophon. Afterwards, however, 

1 There are strong grounds for believing that Archilochus was later 
than CalLinus, who is proved by Grote to have written after the great 
Cimmerian invasion in the reign of Ardys. But there is nothing to show 
at what time in the reign of Ardys this invasion happened. Archilochus 
may have been contemporary both with Gyges and Ardys. The Cimmerian 
invasion may have been early in the reign of the latter prince, say B.C. 675. 

8 Every Phrygian king mentioned in ancient history is either Midas, 
son of Gordias, or Gordias, son of Midas. 

8 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

though he reigned eight and thirty years, he did not perform a 
single noble exploit. I shall therefore make no further mention 
of him, but pass on to his son and successor in the kingdom, 

15. Ardys took Priene and made war upon Miletus. In his 
reign the Cimmerians, driven from their homes by the nomades 
of Scythia, entered Asia and captured Sardis, all but the citadel. 
He reigned forty-nine years, and was succeeded by his son, 
Sadyattes, who reigned twelve years. At his death his son 
Alyattes mounted the throne. 

1 6. This prince waged war with the Medes under Cyaxares, 
the grandson of Deioces, 1 drove the Cimmerians out of Asia, 
conquered Smyrna, the Colophonian colony, 2 and invaded Cla- 
zomenae. From this last contest he did not come off as he 
could have wished, but met with a sore defeat; still, however, 
in the course of his reign, he performed other actions very 
worthy of note, of which I will now proceed to give an account. 

17. Inheriting from his father a war with the Milesians, he 
pressed the siege against the city by attacking it in the following 
manner. When the harvest was ripe on the ground he marched 
his army into Milesia to the sound of pipes and harps, and flutes 
masculine and feminine. 3 The buildings that were scattered 
over the country he neither pulled down nor burnt, nor did he 
even tear away the doors, but left them standing as they were. 
He cut down, however, and utterly destroyed all the trees and 
all the corn throughout the land, and then returned to his own 
dominions. It was idle for his army to sit down before the 
place, as the Milesians were masters of the sea. The reason 
that he did riot demolish their buildings was, that the inhabi 
tants might be tempted to use them as homesteads from which 
to go forth to sow and till their lands; and so each time that 
he invaded the country he might find something to plunder. 

1 8. In this way he carried on the war with the Milesians for 
eleven years, in the course of which he inflicted on them two 
terrible blows ; one in their own country in the district of Lime- 
neium, the other in the plain of the Maeander. During six of 
these eleven years, Sadyattes, the son of Ardys, who first lighted 

1 Vide infra, chaps. 73-4. Vide infra, ch. 150. 

8 Aulus Gellius understood the " male and female flutes," as flutes 
played by men, and flutes played by women. But it is more probable 
that flutes of different tones or pitches are intended. The flute, the pitch 
of which was lower, would be called male;^ the more treble or shrill- 
sounding one would be the female. 

CHAP, is-22. Alyattes Consults the Oracle o 

the flames of this war, was king of Lydia, and made the incur 
sions. Only the five following years belong to the reign of 
Alyattes, son of Sadyattes, who (as I said before) inheriting the 
war from his father, applied himself to it unremittingly. The 
Milesians throughout the contest received no help at all from 
any of the lonians, excepting those of Chios, who lent them 
troops in requital of a like service rendered them in former times, 
the Milesians having fought on the side of the Chians during the 
whole of the war between them and the people of Erythrse. 

19. It was in the twelfth year of the war that the following 
mischance occurred from the firing of the harvest-fields. 
Scarcely had the corn been set a-light by the soldiers when a 
violent wind carried the flames against the temple of Minerva 
Assesia, which caught fire and was burnt to the ground. At 
the time no one made any account of the circumstance; but 
afterwards, on the return of the army to Sardis, Alyattes fell 
sick. His illness continued, whereupon, either advised thereto 
by some friend, or perchance himself conceiving the idea, he 
sent messengers to Delphi to inquire of the god concerning his 
malady. On their arrival the Pythoness declared that no 
answer should be given them until they had rebuilt the temple 
of Minerva, burnt by the Lydians at Assesus in Milesia. 

20. Thus much I know from information given me by the 
Delphians; the remainder of the story the Milesians add. 

The answer made by the oracle came to the ears of Periander, 
son of Cypselus, who was a very close friend to Thrasybulus, 
tyrant of Miletus at that period. He instantly despatched a 
messenger to report the oracle to him, in order that Thrasy 
bulus, forewarned of its tenor, might the better adapt his 
measures to the posture of affairs. 

21. Alyattes, the moment that the words of the oracle were 
reported to him, sent a herald to Miletus in hopes of concluding 
a truce with Thrasybulus and the Milesians for such a time as 
was needed to rebuild the temple. The herald went upon his 
way; but meantime Thrasybulus had been apprised of every 
thing; and conjecturing what Alyattes would do, he contrived 
this artifice. He had all the corn that was in the city, whether 
belonging to himself or to private persons, brought into the 
market-place, and issued an order that the Milesians should 
hold themselves in readiness, and, when he gave the signal, 
should, one and all, fall to drinking and revelry. 

22. The purpose for which he gave these orders was the fol- 

io The History of Herodotus BOOK i a 

lowing. He hoped that the Sardian herald, seeing so great store 
of corn upon the ground, and all the city given up to festivity, 
would inform Alyattes of it, which fell out as he anticipated. 
The herald observed the whole, and when he had delivered his 
message, went back to Sardis. This circumstance alone, as I 
gather, brought about the peace which ensued. Alyattes, who 
had hoped that there was now a great scarcity of corn in Miletus, 
and that the people were worn down to the last pitch of suffer 
ing, when he heard from the herald on his return from Miletus 
tidings so contrary to those he had expected, made a treaty with 
the enemy by which the two nations became close friends and 
allies. He then built at Assesus two temples to Minerva instead 
of one, 1 and shortly after recovered from his malady. Such 
were the chief circumstances of the war which Alyattes waged 
with Thrasybulus and the Milesians. 

23. This Periander, who apprised Thrasybulus of the oracle, 
was son of Cypselus, and tyrant of Corinth. 2 In his time a very 
wonderful thing is said to have happened. The Corinthians and 
the Lesbians agree in their account of the matter. They relate 
that Arion of Methymna, who as a player on the harp, was 
second to no man living at that time, and who was, so far as we 
know, the first to invent the dithyrambic measure, 3 to give it its 
name, and to recite in it at Corinth, was carried to Taenarum on 
the back of a dolphin. 

24. He had lived for many years at the court of Periander, 
when a longing came upon him to sail across to Italy and Sicily. 
Having made rich profits in those parts, he wanted to recross 
the seas to Corinth. He therefore hired a vessel, the crew of 
which were Corinthians, thinking that there was no people in 
whom he could more safely confide; and, going on board, he 

1 The feeling that restitution should be twofold, when made to the gods, 
was a feature of the religion of Rome. It was not recognised in Greece. 

2 Bahr says (Not. ad loc.), Periander was tyrant in the ancient sense of 
the word, in which it is simply equivalent to the Latin " rex " and the 
Greek di/a, or /3a(riXei>s; because he inherited the crown from his 
father Cypselus. But it would rather seem that the word bears here its 
usual sense of a king who rules with a usurped and unconstitutional 

3 The invention of the Dithyramb, or Cyclic chorus, was ascribed to 
Arion, not only by Herodotus, but also by Aristotle, by Hellanicus, by 
Dicaearchus, and, implicitly, by Pindar, who said it was invented at 
Corinth. Perhaps it is best to conclude with a recent writer that Arion 
did not invent, but only improved the dithyramb. The dithyramb was 
originally a mere hymn in honour of Bacchus, with the circumstances of 
whose birth the word is somewhat fancifully connected (Eurip. Bacch. 
526). It was sung by a /cwyuos, or band of revellers, directed by a leader. 

CHAP. 22-25. Legend of Arion 1 1 

set sail from Tarentum. The sailors, however, when they 
reached the open sea, formed a plot to throw him overboard 
and seize upon his riches. Discovering their design, he fell on 
his knees, beseeching them to spare his life, and making them 
welcome to his money. But they refused; and required him 
either to kill himself outright, if he wished for a grave on the 
dry land, or without loss of time to leap overboard into the sea. 
In this strait Arion begged them, since such was their pleasure, 
to allow him to mount upon the quarter-deck, dressed in his 
full costume, and there to play and sing, and promising that, as 
soon as his song was ended, he would destroy himself. Delighted 
at the prospect of hearing the very best harper in the world, they 
consented, and withdrew from the stern to the middle of the 
vessel: while Arion dressed himself in the full costume of his 
calling, took his harp, and standing on the quarter-deck, chanted 
the Orthian. 1 His strain ended, he flung himself, fully attired 
as he was, headlong into the sea. The Corinthians then sailed 
on to Corinth. As for Arion, a dolphin, they say, took him 
upon his back and carried him to Tsenarum, where he went 
ashore, and thence proceeded to Corinth in his musician s dress, 
and told all that had happened to him. Periander, however, 
disbelieved the story, and put Arion in ward, to prevent his 
leaving Corinth, while he watched anxiously for the return of 
the mariners. On their arrival he summoned them before him 
and asked them if they could give him any tidings of Arion. 
They returned for answer that he was alive and in good health 
in Italy, and that they had left him at Tarentum, 2 where he 
was doing well. Thereupon Arion appeared before them, just 
as he was when he jumped from the vessel: the men, astonished 
and detected in falsehood, could no longer deny their guilt. 
Such is the account which the Corinthians and Lesbians give; 
and there is to this day at Tsenarum, an offering of Arion s at 
the shrine, which is a small figure in bronze, representing a man 
seated upon a dolphin. 3 

25. Having brought the war with the Milesians to a close, 

1 According to the scholiast on Aristophanes, the Orphian was pitched 
in a high key, as the name would imply, and was a lively spirited air. 

* In memory of this legend, the Tarentines were fond of exhibiting 
Arion, astride upon his dolphin, on their coins. 

3 Various attempts have been made to rationalise the legend of Arion. 
The truth seems to be, that the legend grew out of the figure at Tasnarum, 
which was known by its inscription to be an offering of Arion s. The 
figure itself remained at Taenarum more than seven hundred year*. It 
was seen by ./Elian in the third century after Christ. 

1 2 The History of Herodotus BOOK i, 

and reigned over the land of Lydia for fifty-seven years, Alyattes 
died. He was the* second prince of his house who made offerings 
at Delphi. His gifts, which he sent on recovering from his 
sickness, were a great bowl of pure silver, with a salver in steel 
curiously inlaid, a work among all the offerings at Delphi the 
best worth looking at. Glaucus, the Chian, made it, the man 
who first invented the art of inlaying steel. 1 

26. On the death of Alyattes, Croesus, his son, who was 
thirty-five years old, succeeded to the throne. Of the Greek 
cities, Ephesus was the first that he attacked. The Ephesians, 
when he laid siege to the place, made an offering of their city 
to Diana, by stretching a rope from the town wall to the temple 
of the goddess, 2 which was distant from the ancient city, then 
besieged by Croesus, a space of seven furlongs. 3 They were, as 
I said, the first Greeks whom he attacked. Afterwards, on 
some pretext or other, he made war in turn upon every Ionian 
and ^Eolian state, bringing forward, where he could, a substantial 
ground of complaint; where such failed him, advancing some 
poor excuse. 

27, In this way he made himself master of all the Greek 
cities in Asia, and forced them to become his tributaries; after 
which he began to think of building ships, and attacking the 
islanders. Everything had been got ready for this purpose, 
when Bias of Priene (or, as some say, Pittacus the Mytilenean) 
put a stop to the project. The king had made inquiry of this 
person, who was lately arrived at Sardis, if there were any news 
from Greece; to which he answered, " Yes, sire, the islanders 
are gathering ten thousand horse, designing an expedition against 
thee and against thy capital." Croesus, thinking he spake 
seriously, broke out, Ah, might the gods put such a thought 
into their minds as to attack the sons of the Lydians with 
cavalry 1 "It seems, oh ! king/ rejoined the other, " that 

1 It is questionable whether by KoXXycris is to be understood the 
inlaying, or merely the welding of iron together. The only two descrip 
tions which eye-witnesses have left us of the salver, lead in opposite 

a An analogous case is mentioned by Plutarch (Solon, c. 12). The 
fugitives implicated in the insurrection of Cylon at Athens connected 
themselves with the altar by a cord. Through the breaking of the cord 
they lost their sacred character. So, too, when Polycrates dedicated 
the island of Rheneia to the Delian Apollo, he connected it with Delos by 
a chain (Thucyd. iii. 104). 

* We learn by this that the site of Ephesus had changed between the 
time of Croesus and that of Herodotus. The building seen by Herodotus 
was that burnt, B.C. 356. 

CHAP. 25-30. Croesus Designs 

thou desirest earnestly to catch the islanders on horseback upon 
the mainland, thou knowest well what would come of it. But 
what thinkest thou the islanders desire better, now that they 
hear thou art about to build ships and sail against them, than to 
catch the Lydians at sea, and there revenge on them the wrongs 
af their brothers upon the mainland, whom thou boldest in 
slavery? Croesus was charmed with the turn of the speech; 
and thinking there was reason in what was said, gave up his 
ship-building and concluded a league of amity with the lonians 
of the isles. 

28. Croesus afterwards, in the course of many years, brought 
under his sway almost all the nations to the west of the Halys. 
The Lycians and Cilicians alone continued free; all the other 
tribes he reduced and held in subjection. They were the 
following: the Lydians, Phrygians, Mysians, Mariandynians, 
Chalybians, Paphlagonians, Thynian and Bithynian Thracians, 
Carians, lonians, Dorians, ^Eolians and Pamphylians. 1 

29. When all these conquests had been added to the Lydian 
empire, and the prosperity of Sardis was now at its height, 
there came thither, one after another, all the sages of Greece 
living at the time, and among them Solon, the Athenian. 2 He 
was on his travels, having left Athens to be absent ten years, 
under the pretence of wishing to see the world, but really to 
avoid being forced to repeal any of the laws which, at the 
request of the Athenians, he had made for them. Without his 
sanction the Athenians could not repeal them, as they had 
bound themselves under a heavy curse to be governed for ten 
years by the laws which should be imposed on them by Solon. 3 

30. On this account, as well as to see the world, Solon set out 

1 It is not quite correct to speak of the Cilicians as dwelling within (i.e., 
west of) the Halys, for the Halys in its upper course ran through Cilicia 
(Std EtXdritfF, ch. 72), and that country lay chiefly south of the river. 
Lycia and Cilicia would be likely to maintain then* independence, being 
both countries of great natural strength. They lie upon the high moun 
tain-range of Taurus, which runs from east to west along the south of 
Asia Minor, within about a degree of the shore, and sends down from the 
main chain a series of lateral branches or spurs, which extend to the sea 
along the whole line of coast from the Gulf of Makri, opposite Rhodes, to 
the plain of Tarsus. The mountains of the interior are in many parts 
covered with snow during the whole or the greater part of the year. 

2 Solon s visit to Croesus was rejected as fabulous before the time of 
Plutarch (Solon, c. 27), on account of chronological difficulties. Croesus 
most probably reigned from B.C. 568 to B.C. 554. Solon certainly outlived 
the first usurpation of the government at Athens by Pisistratus, which 
was B.C. 560. 

* The travels of Solon are attested by Plato (Tim. p. 21) and others. 

1 4 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

upon his travels, in the course of which he went to Egypt to the 
court of Amasis, 1 and also came on a visit to Croesus at Sardis. 
Croesus received him as his guest, and lodged him in the royal 
palace. On the third or fourth day after, he bade his servants 
conduct Solon over his treasuries, 2 and show him all their great 
ness and magnificence. When he had seen them all, and, 
so far as time allowed, inspected them, Croesus addressed this 
question to him. Stranger of Athens, we have heard much of 
thy wisdom and of thy travels through many lands, from love of 
knowledge and a wish to see the world. I am curious therefore 
to inquire of thee, whom, of all the men that thou hast seen, 
thou deemest the most happy? This he asked because he 
thought himself the happiest of mortals: but Solon answered 
him without flattery, according to his true sentiments, " Tellus 
of Athens, sire." Full of astonishment at what he heard, Croesus 
demanded sharply, " And wherefore dost thou deem Tellus 
happiest? J To which the other replied, " First, because his 
country was flourishing in his days, and he himself had sons 
both beautiful and good, and he lived to see children born to 
each of them, and these children all grew up; and further 
because, after a life spent in what our people look upon as 
comfort, his end was surpassingly glorious. In a battle between 
the Athenians and their neighbours near Eleusis, he came to 
the assistance of his countrymen, routed the foe, and died upon 
the field most gallantly. The Athenians gave him a public 
funeral on the spot where he fell, and paid him the highest 

31. Thus did Solon admonish Croesus by the example of Tellus, 
enumerating the manifold particulars of his happiness. When 
he had ended, Croesus inquired a second time, who after Tellus 
seemed to him the happiest, expecting that at any rate, he 
would be given the second place. " Cleobis and Bito," Solon 
answered; " they were of Argive race; their fortune was enough 
for their wants, and they were besides endowed with so much 
bodily strength that they had both gained prizes at the Games. 
Also this tale is told of them: There was a great festival in 
honour of the goddess Juno at Argos, to which their mother 
must needs be taken in a car. 3 Now the oxen did not come 

1 Amasis began to reign B.C. 569. Solon might sail from Athens to 
Egypt, thence to Cyprus (Herod, v. 113), and from Cyprus to Lydia. 

* Vide infra, vi. 125. 

* Cicero and others relate that the ground of the necessity was the 
circumstances that the youths mother was priestess of Juno at the time* 

CHAP. 30-32, Legend of Solon i c 

home from the field in time: so the youths, fearful of being too 
late, put the yoke on their own necks, and themselves drew the 
car in which their mother rode. Five and forty furlongs did 
they draw her, and stopped before the temple. This deed of 
theirs was witnessed by the whole assembly of worshippers, and 
then their life closed in the best possible way. Herein, too, 
God showed forth most evidently, how much better a thing for 
man death is than life. For the Argive men, who stood around 
the car, extolled the vast strength of the youths; and the 
Argive women extolled the mother who was blessed with such a 
pair of sons; and the mother herself, overjoyed at the deed and 
at the praises it had won, standing straight before the image, 
besought the goddess to bestow on Cleobis and Bito, the sons 
who had so mightily honoured her, the highest blessing to which 
mortals can attain. Her prayer ended, they offered sacrifice and 
partook of the holy banquet, after which the two youths fell 
asleep in the temple. They never woke more, but so passed 
from the earth. The Argives, looking on them as among the 
best of men, caused statues of them to be made, which they gave 
to the shrine at Delphi." 

32. When Solon had thus assigned these youths the second 
place, Croesus broke in angrily, What, stranger of Athens, is 
my happiness, then, so utterly set at nought by thee, that thou 
dost not even put me on a level with private men ? 

" Oh! Croesus," replied the other, " thou askedst a question, 
concerning the condition of man, of one who knows that the 
power above us is full of jealousy, 1 and fond of troubling our 
lot. A long life gives one to witness much, and experience 
much oneself, that one would not choose. Seventy years I 

Servius says a pestilence had destroyed the oxen, which contradicts 
Herodotus. Otherwise the tale is told with fewer varieties than most 
ancient stories. 

1 The <0oVos (" jealousy ") of God is a leading feature in Herodotus s 
conception of the Deity, and no doubt is one of the chief moral conclusions 
which he drew from his own survey of human events, and intended to 
impress on us by his history. (Vide infra, iii. 40, vii. 46, and especially 
vii. 10, 5-6.) " Herodotus s QOovepfa 0ebs is not simply the Deus 
ultof " of religious Romans, much less the " jealous God of Scripture. 
The idea of an avenging God is included in the Herodotean conception, 
but is far from being the whole of it. Prosperity, not pride, eminence, 
not arrogance, provokes him. He does not like any one to be great or 
happy but himself (vii. 46, end). What is most remarkable is, that with 
such a conception of the Divine Nature, Herodotus could maintain such 
a placid, cheerful, childlike temper. Possibly he was serene because h 
felt secure in his mediocrity. 

1 405 B 

1 6 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

regard as the limit of the life of man. 1 In these seventy years 
are contained, without reckoning intercalary months, twenty-five 
thousand and two hundred days. Add an intercalary month to 
every other year, that the seasons may come round at the right 
time, and there will be, besides the seventy years, thirty-five 
such months, making an addition of one thousand and fifty days. 
The whole number of the days contained in the seventy years 
will thus be twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty, 2 whereof 
not one but will produce events unlike the rest. Hence man is 
wholly accident. For thyself, ohl Crcesus, I see that thou art 
wonderfully rich, and art the lord of many nations; but with 
respect to that whereon thou questionest me, I have no answer 
to give, until I hear that thou hast closed thy life happily. For 
assuredly he who possesses great store of riches is no nearer 
happiness than he who has what suffices for his daily needs, 
unless it so hap that luck attend upon him, and so he continue 
in the enjoyment of all his good things to the end of life. For 
many of the wealthiest men have been unfavoured of fortune, 
and many whose means were moderate have had excellent 
luck. Men of the former class excel those of the latter but 
in two respects; these last excel the former in many. The 
wealthy man is better able to content his desires, and to bear up 
against a sudden buffet of calamity. The other has less ability 
to withstand these evils (from which, however, his good luck 
keeps him clear), but he enjoys all these following blessings: 
he is whole of limb, a stranger to disease, free from misfortune, 
happy in his children, and comely to look upon. If, in addition 
to all this, he end his life well, he is of a truth the man of whom 
thou art in search, the man who may rightly be termed happy. 
Call him, however, until he die, not happy but fortunate. 
Scarcely, indeed, can any man unite all these advantages: as 
there is no country which contains within it all that it needs, but 
each, while it possesses some things, lacks others, and the best 

1 * The days of our years are threescore years and ten " (Ps. xc. 10). 

8 No commentator on Herodotus has succeeded in explaining the curious 
mistake whereby the solar year is made to average 375 days. That 
Herodotus knew the true solar year was not 375, but more nearly 365 days, 
is clear from book ii. ch. 4. Two inaccuracies produce the error in Hero 
dotus. In the first place he makes Solon count his months at 30 days 
each, whereas it is notorious that the Greek months, after the system of 
intercalation was introduced, were alternately of 2g and 30 days. By 
this error his first number is raised from 24,780 to 25,200; and also his 
second number from 1033 * 1050. Secondly, he omits to mention that 
from time to time (every 4th TpLerypls probably) the intercalary month 
was omitted altogether. 

33-35. Sequel to the Legend 17 

country is that which contains the most; so no single human 
being is complete in every respect something is always lacking. 
He who unites the greatest number of advantages, and retaining 
them to the day of his death, then dies peaceably, that man 
alone, sire, is, in my judgment, entitled to bear the name of 
* happy. But in every matter it behoves us to mark well the 
end: for oftentimes God gives men a gleam of happiness, and 
then plunges them into ruin." 

33. Such was the speech which Solon addressed to Crcesus, a 
speech which brought him neither largess nor honour. The 
king saw him depart with much indifference, since he thought 
that a man must be an arrant fool who made no account of 
present good, but bade men always wait and mark the end. 

34. After Solon had gone away a dreadful vengeance, sent of 
God, came upon Crcesus, to punish him, it is likely, for deeming 
himself the happiest of men. First he had a dream in the 
night, which foreshowed him truly the evils that were about to 
befall him in the person of his son. For Crcesus had two sons, 
one blasted by a natural defect, being deaf and dumb; the other, 
distinguished far above all his co-mates in every pursuit. The 
name of the last was Atys. It was this son concerning whom 
he dreamt a dream, that he would die by the blow of an iron 
weapon. When he woke, he considered earnestly with himself, 
and, greatly alarmed at the dream, instantly made his son take 
a wife, and whereas in former years the youth had been wont to 
command the Lydian forces in the field, he now would not 
suffer him to accompany them. All the spears and javelins, 
and weapons used in the wars, he removed out of the male 
apartments, and laid them in heaps in the chambers of the 
women, fearing lest perhaps one of the weapons that hung against 
the wall might fall and strike him. 

35. Now it chanced that while he was making arrangements 
for the wedding, there came to Sardis a man under a misfortune, 
who had upon him the stain of blood. He was by race a 
Phrygian, and belonged to the family of the king. Presenting 
himself at the palace of Crcesus, he prayed to be admitted to 
purification according to the customs of the country. Now the 
Lydian method of purifying is very nearly the same as the 
Greek. Croesus granted the request, and went through all the 
customary rites, after which he asked the suppliant of his birth 
and country, addressing him as follows : Who art thou, 
stranger, and from what part of Phrygia fleddest thou to take 

1 8 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

refuge at my hearth ? And whom, moreover, what man or what 
woman, hast thou slain? "Oh! king," replied the Phrygian, 
1 1 am the son of Gordias, son of Midas. I am named Adrastus. 1 
The man I unintentionally slew was my own brother. For this 
my father drove me from the land, and I lost all. Then fled I 
here to thee." Thou art the offspring," Croesus rejoined, " of 
a house friendly to mine, and thou art come to friends. Thou 
shalt want for nothing so long as thou abidest in my dominions. 
Bear thy misfortune as easily as thou mayest, so will it go best 
with thee." Thenceforth Adrastus lived in the palace of the 

36. It chanced that at this very same time there was in the 
Mysian Olympus a huge monster of a boar, which went forth 
often from this mountain-country, and wasted the corn-fields of 
the Mysians. Many a time had the Mysians collected to hunt 
the beast, but instead of doing him any hurt, they came of? 
always with some loss to themselves. At length they sent 
ambassadors to Croesus, who delivered their message to him in 
these words : * Oh ! king, a mighty monster of a boar has 
appeared in our parts, and destroys the labour of our hands. 
We do our best to take him, but in vain. Now therefore we 
beseech thee to let thy son accompany us back, with some 
chosen youths and hounds, that we may rid our country of the 
animal." Such was the tenor of their prayer. 

But Croesus bethought him of his dream, and answered, 
" Say no more of my son going with you; that may not be in 
any wise. He is but just joined in wedlock, and is busy enough 
with that. I will grant you a picked band of Lydians, and all 
my huntsmen and hounds; and I will charge those whom I 
send to use all zeal in aiding you to rid your country of the 

37. With this reply the Mysians were content; but the king s 
son, hearing what the prayer of the Mysians was, came suddenly 
in, and on the refusal of Croesus to let him go with them, thus 
addressed his father: " Formerly, my father, it was deemed the 
noblest and most suitable thing for me to frequent the wars 
and hunting-parties, and win myself glory in them; but no\* \ 
thou keepest me away from both, although thou hast neve: I 
beheld in me either cowardice or lack of spirit. What fac< j 
meanwhile must I wear as I walk to the forum or return fron 

1 Adrastus is " the doomed " " the man unable to escape." Atys i 
" the youth under the influence of Ate " " the man judicially blind/ 

CHAP. 36-42. Story of Adrastus 1 9 

it? What must the citizens, what must my young bride think 
of me ? What sort of man will she suppose her husband to be ? 
Either, therefore, let me go to the chace of this boar, or give me 
a reason why it is best for me to do according to thy wishes." 

38. Then Croesus answered, " My son, it is not because I have 
seen in thee either cowardice or aught else which has displeased 
me that I keep thee back; but because a vision which came 
before me in a dream as I slept, warned me that thou wert 
doomed to die young, pierced by an iron weapon. It was this 
which first led me to hasten on thy wedding, and now it hinders 
me from sending thee upon this enterprise. Fain would I keep 
watch over thee, if by any means I may cheat fate of thee 
during my own lifetime. For thou art the one and only son 
that I possess; the other, whose hearing is destroyed, I regard 
as if he were not." 

39. " Ah 1 father," returned the youth, " I blame thee not 
for keeping watch over me after a dream so terrible; but if 
thou mistakest, if thou dost not apprehend the dream aright, 
tis no blame for me to show thee wherein thou errest. Now 
the dream, thou saidst thyself, foretold that I should die stricken 
by an iron weapon. But what hands has a boar to strike with? 
What iron weapon does he wield ? Yet this is what thou f earest 
for me. Had the dream said that I should die pierced by a 
tusk, then thou hadst done well to keep me away; but it said 
a weapon. Now here we do not combat men, but a wild 
animal. I pray thee, therefore, let me go with them." 

40. " There thou hast me, my son," said Croesus, " thy inter 
pretation is better than mine. I yield to it, and change my 
mind, and consent to let thee go." 

41. Then the king sent for Adrastus, the Phrygian, and said 
to him, " Adrastus, when thou wert smitten with the rod of 
affliction no reproach, my friend I purified thee, and have 
taken thee to live with me in my palace, and have been at 
every charge. Now, therefore, it behoves thee to requite the 
good offices which thou hast received at my hands by consenting 
to go with my son on this hunting party, and to watch over 
him, if perchance you should be attacked upon the road by 
some band of daring robbers. Even apart from this, it were 
right for thee to go where thou mayest make thyself famous 
by noble deeds. They are the heritage of thy family, and thou 
too art so stalwart and strong." 

42. Adrastus answered, " Except for thy request, Oh 1 king, 

2O The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

I would rather have kept away from this hunt; for methinks it 
ill beseems a man under a misfortune such as mine to consort 
with his happier compeers; and besides, I have no heart to it. 
On many grounds I had stayed behind; but, as thou urgest it, 
and I am bound to pleasure thee (for truly it does behove me 
to requite thy good offices), I am content to do as thou wishest. 
For thy son, whom thou givest into my charge, be sure thou 
shalt receive him back safe and sound, so far as depends upon 
a guardian s carefulness." 

43. Thus assured, Croesus let them depart, accompanied by a, 
band of picked youths, and well provided with dogs of chase. 
When they reached Olympus, they scattered in quest of the 
animal; he was soon found, and the hunters, drawing round 
him in a circle, hurled their weapons at him. Then the stranger, 
the man who had been purified of blood, whose name was 
Adrastus, he also hurled his spear at the boar, but missed his 
aim, and struck Atys. Thus was the son of Croesus slain by 
the point of an iron weapon, and the warning of the vision was 
fulfilled. Then one ran to Sardis to bear the tidings to the 
king, and he came and informed him of the combat and of the 
fate that had befallen his son. 

44. If it was a heavy blow to the father to learn that his 
child was dead, it yet more strongly affected him to think that 
the very man whom he himself once purified had done the 
deed. In the violence of his grief he called aloud on Jupiter 
Catharsius, 1 to be a witness of what he had suffered at the 
stranger s hands. Afterwards he invoked the same god as 
Jupiter Ephistius and Hetsereus using the one term because 
he had unwittingly harboured in his house the man who had 
now slain his son; and the other, because the stranger, who 
had been sent as his child s guardian, had turned out his most 
cruel enemy. 

45. Presently the Lydians arrived, bearing the body of the 
youth, and behind them followed the homicide. He took his 
stand in front of the corse, and, stretching forth his hands to 
Croesus, delivered himself into his power with earnest entreaties 
that he would sacrifice him upon the body of his son " his 

1 Jupiter was Catharsius, " the god of purifications," not on account of 
the resemblance of the rites of purification with those of Jupiter MetX/xtos, 
but simply in the same way that he was Ephistius and Hetaeretis, god of 
hearths, and of companionship, because he presided over all occasions of 
obligation between man and man, and the purified person contracted an 
obligation towards his purifier. 

CHAP. 43-47. Grief of CrOCSUS 2 1 

former misfortune was burthen enough; now that he had added 
to it a second, and had brought ruin on the man who purified 
him, he could not bear to live." Then Croesus, when he heard 
these words, was moved with pity towards Adrastus, notwith 
standing the bitterness of his own calamity; and so he answered, 
" Enough, my friend ; I have all the revenge that I require, 
since thou givest sentence of death against thyself. But in 
sooth it is not thou who hast injured me, except so far as thou 
hast unwittingly dealt the blow. Some god is the author of 
my misfortune, and I was forewarned of it a long time ago." 
Croesus after this buried the body of his son, with such honours 
as befitted the occasion. Adrastus, son of Gordias, son of Midas, 
the destroyer of his brother in time past, the destroyer now of 
his purifier, regarding himself as the most unfortunate wretch 
whom he had ever known, so soon as all was quiet about the 
place, slew himself upon the tomb. Croesus, bereft of his son, 
gave himself up to mourning for two full years. 

46. At the end of this time the grief of Croesus was inter 
rupted by intelligence from abroad. He learnt that Cyrus, the 
son of Cambyses, had destroyed the empire of Astyages, the 
son of Cyaxares; and that the Persians were becoming daily 
more powerful. This led him to consider with himself whether 
it were possible to check the growing power of that people 
before it came to a head. With this design he resolved to make 
instant trial of the several oracles in Greece, and of the one in 
Libya. 1 So he sent his messengers in different directions, some 
to Delphi, some to Abse in Phocis, and some to Dodona; others 
to the oracle of Amphiaraiis; others to that of Trophonius; 
others, again, to Branchidae in Milesia. 2 These were the Greek 
oracles which he consulted. To Libya he sent another embassy, 
to consult the oracle of Ammon. These messengers were sent 
to test the knowledge of the oracles, that, if they were found 
really to return true answers, he might send a second time, and 
inquire if he ought to attack the Persians. 

47. The messengers who were despatched to make trial of the 
oracles were given the following instructions: they were to keep 
count of the days from the time of their leaving Sardis, and, 
reckoning from that date, on the hundredth day they were to 

The one in Libya (Africa) that of Ammon, because Egypt was 
regarded by Herodotus as in Asia, not in Africa. 

1 The oracle at Abae seems to have ranked next to that at Delphi. The 
Orientals do not appear to have possessed any indigenous oracles, 

22 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

consult the oracles, and to inquire of them what Croesus the son 
of Alyattes, king of Lydia, was doing at that moment. The 
answers given them were to be taken down in writing, and brought 
back to him. None of the replies remain on record except that 
of the oracle at Delphi. There, the moment that the Lydians 
entered the sanctuary, 1 and before they put their questions, the 
Pythoness thus answered them in hexameter verse: 

I can count the sands, and I can measure the ocean; 
I have ears for the silent, and know what the dumb man meaneth; 
Lo! on my sense there striketh the smell of a shell-covered tortoise, 
Boiling now on a fire, with the flesh of a lamb, in a cauldron, 
Brass is the vessel below, and brass the cover above it. 

48. These words the Lydians wrote down at the mouth of 
the Pythoness as she prophesied, and then set off on their 
return to Sardis. When all the messengers had come back with 
the answers which they had received, Croesus undid the rolls, 
and read what was written in each. Only one approved itself 
to him, that of the Delphic oracle. This he had no sooner 
heard than he instantly made an act of adoration, and accepted 
it as true, declaring that the Delphic was the only really oracular 
shrine, the only one that had discovered in what way he was in 
fact employed. For on the departure of his messengers he had 
set himself to think what was most impossible for any one to 
conceive of his doing, 2 and then, waiting till the day agreed on 
came, he acted as he had determined. He took a tortoise and 
a lamb, and cutting them in pieces with his own hands, boiled 
them both together in a brazen cauldron, covered over with a 
lid which was also of brass. 

49. Such then was the answer returned to Croesus from 
Delphi. What the answer was which the Lydians who went to 
the shrine of Amphiaraus and performed the customary rites, 
obtained of the oracle there, I have it not in my power to 
mention, for there is no record of it. All that is known is, that 

1 The /mtyapov was the " inner shrine," the sacred chamber where the 
oracles were given. 

2 It is impossible to discuss such a question as the nature of the ancient 
oracles, which has had volumes written upon it, within the limits of a 
note. I will only observe that in forming our judgment on the subject, 
two points should be kept steadily in view: (i) the fact that the Pythoness 
whom St. Paul met with on his first entrance into European Greece, was 
really possessed by an evil spirit, which St. Paul cast out, thereby depriving 
her masters of all their hopes of gain (Acts xvi. 16-19) : an< ^ ( 2 ) the pheno 
mena of Mesmerism. In one or other of these, or in both of them com 
bined, will be found the simplest, and probably the truest explanation, of 
all that is really marvellous in the responses of the oracles. 

CHAP. 48-51. Gratitude of Croesus 23 

Croesus believed himself to have found there also an oracle 
which spoke the truth* 

50. After this Crcesus, having resolved to propitiate the 
Delphic god with a magnificent sacrifice, offered up three thou 
sand of every kind of sacrificial beast, and besides made a huge 
pile, and placed upon it couches coated with silver and with 
gold, and golden goblets, and robes and vests of purple; all 
which he burnt in the hope of thereby making himself more 
secure of the favour of the god. Further he issued his orders 
to all the people of the land to offer a sacrifice according to 
their means. When the sacrifice was ended, the king melted 
down a vast quantity of gold, and ran it into ingots, making 
them six palms long, three palms broad, and one palm in thick 
ness. The number of ingots was a hundred and seventeen, four 
being of refined gold, in weight two talents and a half; the 
others of pale gold, and in weight two talents. He also caused 
a statue of a lion to be made in refined gold, the weight of 
which was ten talents. At the time when the temple of Delphi 
was burnt to the ground, 1 this lion fell from the ingots on which 
it was placed; it now stands in the Corinthian treasury, and 
weighs only six talents and a half, having lost three talents 
and a half by the fire. 

51. On the completion of these works Crcesus sent them away 
to Delphi, and with them two bowls of an enormous size, one 
of gold, the other of silver, which used to stand, the latter upon 
the right, the former upon the left, as one entered the temple. 
They too were moved at the time of the fire; and now the 
golden one is in the Clazomenian treasury, and weighs eight 
talents and forty-two minse; the silver one stands in the corner 
of the ante-chapel, and holds six hundred amphorae. This is 
known, because the Delphians fill it at the time of the Theo- 
phania. 2 It is said by the Delphians to be a work of Theodore 
the Samian, 3 and I think that they say true, for assuredly it is 
the work of no common artist. Crcesus sent also four silver 
casks, which are in the Corinthian treasury, and two lustral 
vases, a golden and a silver one. On the former is inscribed the 

1 Vide infra, ii. 180, v. 62. It was burnt accidentally. 

* Both in Julius Pollux and in Philostratus there is mention of the 
Theophania, as a festival celebrated by the Greeks. No particulars are 
known of it. 

* Pausanias ascribed to Theodore of Samos the invention of casting in 
bronze, and spoke of him also as an architect (in. xii. 8; vm. xiv. 5). 
Pliny agreed with both statements (Nat. Hist. xxxv. 12). 

I 405 *B 

24 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

name of the Lacedaemonians, and they claim it as a gift of 
theirs, but wrongly, since it was really given by Croesus. The 
inscription upon it was cut by a Delphian, who wished to 
pleasure the Lacedaemonians. His name is known to me, but I 
forbear to mention it. The boy, through whose hand the water 
runs, is (I confess) a Lacedaemonian gift, but they did not give 
either of the lustral vases. Besides these various offerings, 
Crcesus sent to Delphi many others of less account, among the 
rest a number of round silver basins. Also he dedicated a 
female figure in gold, three cubits high, which is said by the 
Delphians to be the statue of his baking- woman; and further, 
he presented the necklace and the girdles of his wife. 

52. These were the offerings sent by Croesus to Delphi. To 
the shrine of Amphiaraus, with whose valour and misfortune he 
was acquainted, 1 he sent a shield entirely of gold, and a spear, 
also of solid gold, both head and shaft. They were still existing 
in my day at Thebes, laid up in the temple of Ismenian Apollo. 

53. The messengers who had the charge of conveying these 
treasures to the shrines, received instructions to ask the oracles 
whether Croesus should go to war with the Persians, and if so, 
whether he should strengthen himself by the forces of an ally. 
Accordingly, when they had reached their destinations and pre 
sented the gifts, they proceeded to consult the oracles in the 
following terms: " Crcesus, king of Lydia and other countries, 
believing that these are the only real oracles in all the world, 
has sent you such presents as your discoveries deserved, and now 
inquires of you whether he shall go to war with the Persians, 
and if so, whether he shall strengthen himself by the forces of 
a confederate." Both the oracles agreed in the tenor of their 
reply, which was in each case a prophecy that if Crcesus attacked 
the Persians, he would destroy a mighty empire, and a recom 
mendation to him to look and see who were the most powerful 
of the Greeks, and to make alliance with them. 

54. At the receipt of these oracular replies Crcesus was over 
joyed, and feeling sure now that he would destroy the empire of 
the Persians, he sent once more to Pytho, and presented to the 
Delphians, the number of whom he had ascertained, two gold 
staters apiece. 2 In return for this the Delphians granted to 

1 For the story of Amphiaraus, cf. Pausan. i. 34, ii. 13, 6. ^schylus 
Sept. contr. Th. 564 et seqq. The " misfortune " is his being engulfed 
Dear Oropus, or (as some said) at Harma in Bceotia. 

a For the value of the stater, see note on Book vii. ch. 28. 

CHAP. 52-57. Sparta and Athens 25 

Croesus and the Lydians the privilege of precedency in consult 
ing the oracle, exemption from all charges, the most honourable 
seat at the festivals, and the perpetual right of becoming at 
pleasure citizens of their town. 

55. After sending these presents to the Delphians, Croesus a 
third time consulted the oracle, for having once proved its 
truthfulness, he wished to make constant use of it. The ques 
tion whereto he now desired an answer was " Whether his 
kingdom would be of long duration? The following was the 
reply of the Pythoness : 

Wait till the time shall come when a mule is monarch of Media; 
Then, thou delicate Lydian, away to the pebbles of Hermus; 
Haste, oh! haste thee away, nor blush to behave like a coward. 

56. Of all the answers that had reached him, this pleased him 
far the best, for it seemed incredible that a mule should ever 
come to be king of the Medes, and so he concluded that the 
sovereignty would never depart from himself or his seed after 
him. Afterwards he turned his thoughts to the alliance which 
he had been recommended to contract, and sought to ascertain 
by inquiry which was the most powerful of the Grecian states. 
His inquiries pointed out to him two states as pre-eminent above 
the rest. These were the Lacedaemonians and the Athenians, 
the former of Doric the latter of Ionic blood. And indeed these 
two nations had held from very early times the most distin 
guished place in Greece, the one being a Pelasgic the other a 
Hellenic people, and the one having never quitted its original 
seats, while the other had been excessively migratory; for 
during the reign of Deucalion, Phthiotis was the country in 
which the Hellenes dwelt, but under Dorus, the son of Hellen, 
they moved to the tract at the base of Ossa and Olympus, which 
is called Histiseotis; forced to retire from that region by the 
Cadmeians, 1 they settled, under the name of Macedni, in the 
chain of Pindus. Hence they once more removed and came to 
Dryopis; and from Dryopis having entered the Peloponnese in 
this way, they became known as Dorians. 

57. What the language of the Pelasgi was I cannot say with 
any certainty. If, however, we may form a conjecture from 
the tongue spoken by the Pelasgi of the present day, those, 

1 The Cadmeians were the Grasco- Phoenician race (their name merely 
signifying " the Easterns "), who in the ante-Trojan times, occupied the 
country which was afterwards called Bceotia. Hence the Greek tragedians, 
in plays of which ancient Thebes is the scene, invariably speak of the 
Thebans as KaSpteH, KaS/x-etoj 

2 6 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

for instance, who live at Creston above the Tyrrhenians, who 
formerly dwelt in the district named Thessaliotis, and were 
neighbours of the people now called the Dorians, or those 
again who founded Placia and Scylac6 upon the Hellespont, 
who had previously dwelt for some time with the Athenians, 1 
or those, in short, of any other of the cities which have dropped 
the name but are in fact Pelasgian; if, I say, we are to form 
a conjecture from any of these, we must pronounce that the 
Pelasgi spoke a barbarous language. If this were really so, and 
the entire Pelasgic race spoke the same tongue, the Athenians, 
who were certainly Pelasgi, must have changed their language 
at the same time that they passed into the Hellenic body; for 
it is a certain fact that the people of Creston speak a language 
unlike any of their neighbours, and the same is true of the 
Placianians, while the language spoken by these two people is 
the same; which shows that they both retain the idiom which 
they brought with them into the countries where they are now 

58. The Hellenic race has never, since its first origin, changed 
its speech. This at least seems evident to me. It was a branch 
of the Pelasgic, which separated from the main body, and at 
first was scanty in numbers and of little power; but it gradually 
spread and increased to a multitude of nations, chiefly by the 
voluntary entrance into its ranks of numerous tribes of bar 
barians. The Pelasgi, on the other hand, were, as I think, a 
barbarian race which never greatly multiplied. 

59. On inquiring into the condition of these two nations, 
Croesus found that one, the Athenian, was in a state of grievous 
oppression and distraction under Pisistratus, the son of Hippo 
crates, who was at that time tyrant of Athens. Hippocrates, 
when he was a private citizen, is said to have gone once upon a 
time to Olympia to see the games, when a wonderful prodigy 
happened to him. As he was employed in sacrificing, the 
cauldrons which stood near, full of water and of the flesh of the 
victims, began to boil without the help of fire, so that the water 
overflowed the pots. Chilon the Lacedaemonian, who happened 
to be there and to witness the prodigy, advised Hippocrates, if 
he were unmarried, never to take into his house a wife who 
could bear him a child ; if he already had one, to send her back 
to her friends ; if he had a son, to disown him. Chilon s advice 
did not at all please Hippocrates, who disregarded it, and some 

1 Vide infra, vi. 137. 

CHAP. 58-60. Pisistratus 27 

time after became the father of Pisistratus. This Pisistratus, at 
a time when there was civil contention in Attica between the 
party of the Sea-coast headed by Megacles the son of Alcmaeon, 
and that of the Plain headed by Lycurgus, one of the Aristolaids, 
formed the project of making himself tyrant, and with this view 
created a third party. 1 Gathering together a band of partisans, 
and giving himself out for the protector of the Highlanders, he 
contrived the following stratagem. He wounded himself and 
his mules, and then drove his chariot into the market-place, 
professing to have just escaped an attack of his enemies, who 
had attempted his life as he was on his way into the country* 
He besought the people to assign him a guard to protect his 
person, reminding them of the glory which he had gained when 
he led the attack upon the Megarians, and took the town of 
Nisaea, 2 at the same time performing many other exploits. The 
Athenians, deceived by his story, appointed him a band of 
citizens to serve as a guard, who were to carry clubs instead 
of spears, and to accompany him wherever he went. Thus 
strengthened, Pisistratus broke into revolt and seized the 
citadel. In this way he acquired the sovereignty of Athens, 
which he continued to hold without disturbing the previously 
existing offices or altering any of the laws. He administered 
the state according to the established usages, and his arrange 
ments were wise and salutary. 

60. However, after a little time, the partisans of Megacles 
and those of Lycurgus agreed to forget their differences, and 
united to drive him out. So Pisistratus, having by the means 
described first made himself master of Athens, lost his power 
again before it had time to take root. No sooner, however, 
was he departed than the factions which had driven him out 
quarrelled anew, and at last Megacles, wearied with the struggle, 
sent a herald to Pisistratus, with an offer to re-establish him on 
the throne if he would marry his daughter. Pisistratus con 
sented, and on these terms an agreement was concluded between 
the two, after which they proceeded to devise the mode of his 
restoration. And here the device on which they hit was the 
silliest that I find on record, more especially considering that 

1 There can be no doubt that these local factions must also have been 
political parties. 

8 Plutarch mentions a war between Athens and Megara, under the 
conduct of Solon, in which Pisistratus was said to have distinguished him 
self (Solon, c, 8), as having occurred before Solon s legislation, i.e. before 

B.C. 594. 

28 The History of Herodotus BOOX L 

the Greeks have been from very ancient times distinguished 
from the barbarians by superior sagacity and freedom from 
foolish simpleness, and remembering that the persons on whom 
this trick was played were not only Greeks but Athenians, who 
have the credit of surpassing all other Greeks in cleverness. 
There was in the Paeanian district a woman named Phya, 1 whose 
height only fell short of four cubits by three fingers breadth, 
and who was altogether comely to look upon. This woman they 
clothed in complete armour, and, instructing her as to the 
carriage which she was to maintain in order to beseem her part, 
they placed her in a chariot and drove to the city. Heralds had 
been sent forward to precede her, and to make proclamation to 
this effect: * Citizens of Athens, receive again Pisistratus with 
friendly minds. Minerva, who of all men honours him the most, 
herself conducts him back to her own citadel." This they pro 
claimed in all directions, and immediately the rumour spread 
throughout the country districts that Minerva was bringing 
back her favourite. They of the city also, fully persuaded that 
the woman was the veritable goddess, prostrated themselves 
before her, and received Pisistratus back. 

61. Pisistratus, having thus recovered the sovereignty, 
married, according to agreement, the daughter of Megacles. 
As, however, he had already a family of grown up sons, and 
the Alcmaeonidae were supposed to be under a curse, 2 he deter 
mined that there should be no issue of the marriage. His wife 
at first kept this matter to herself, but after a time, either her 
mother questioned her, or it may be that she told it of her own 
accord. At any rate, she informed her mother, and so it reached 
her father s ears. Megacles, indignant at receiving an affront 
from such a quarter, in his anger instantly made up his differ 
ences with the opposite faction, on which Pisistratus, aware of 
what was planning against him, took himself out of the country. 

1 Grote has some just remarks upon the observations with which 
Herodotus accompanies the story of Phya. It seems clear that the Greeks 
of the age of Pisistratus fully believed in the occasional presence upon 
earth of the Gods. Grote refers to the well-known appearance of the 
God Pan to Phidippides a little before the battle of Marathon, which 
Herodotus himself states to have been received as true by the Athenians 
(vi. 105). [The woman s height would be about 6 English feet.] 

2 Vide infra, v. 70-1; Thucyd. i. 126; Plut. Solon, c. 12. The curs 
rested on them upon account of their treatment of th partisans of Cylon. 
The arch on of the time, Megacles, not only broke faith with them after 
he had, by a pledge to spare their lives, induced them to leave the sacred 
precinct of Minerva in the Acropolis, but also slew a number at the altar 
of the Eumenides. 

CHAP. 61-63. Pisistratus 29 

Arrived at Eretria, he held a council with his children to decide 
what was to be done. The opinion of Hippias prevailed, and it 
was agreed to aim at regaining the sovereignty. The first step 
was to obtain advances of money from such states as were under 
obligations to them. By these means they collected large sums 
from several countries, especially from the Thebans, who gave 
them far more than any of the rest. To be brief, time passed, 
and all was at length got ready for their return. A band of 
Argive mercenaries arrived from the Peloponnese, and a certain 
Naxian named Lygdamis, who volunteered his services, was 
particularly zealous in the cause, supplying both men and 

62. In the eleventh year of their exile the family of Pisis 
tratus set sail from Eretria on their return home. They made 
the coast of Attica, near Marathon, where they encamped, and 
were joined by their partisans from the capital and by numbers 
from the country districts, who loved tyranny better than free 
dom. At Athens, while Pisistratus was obtaining funds, and 
even after he landed at Marathon, no one paid any attention to 
his proceedings. When, however, it became known that he had 
left Marathon, and was marching upon the city, preparations 
were made for resistance, the whole force of the state was levied, 
and led against the returning exiles. Meantime the army of 
Pisistratus, which had broken up from Marathon, meeting their 
adversaries near the temple of the Pallenian Minerva, 1 pitched 
their camp opposite them. Here a certain soothsayer, Amphi- 
lytus by name, an Acarnanian, moved by a divine impulse, 
came into the presence of Pisistratus, and approaching him 
uttered this prophecy in the hexameter measure: 

Now has the cast been made, the net is out-spread in the water, 
Through the moonshiny night the tunnies will enter the meshes. 

63. Such was the prophecy uttered under a divine inspira 
tion. Pisistratus, apprehending its meaning, declared that he 
accepted the oracle, and instantly led on his army. The 
Athenians from the city had just finished their midday meal, 
after which they had betaken themselves, some to dice, others 
to sleep, when Pisistratus with his troops fell upon them and 

1 Pallene was a village of Attica, near Gargettus, which is the modern 
Garito. It was famous for its temple of Minerva [Athena], which was 
of such magnificence as to be made the subject of a special treatise by 
Themison, whose book, entitled PalUnis t is mentioned by Athenaeus (vi. 
6, p. 235). 

30 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

put them to the rout. As soon as the flight began, Pisistratus 
bethought himself of a most wise contrivance, whereby the 
Athenians might be induced to disperse and not unite in a body 
any more. He mounted his sons on horseback and sent them 
on in front to overtake the fugitives, and exhort them to be of 
good cheer, and return each man to his home. The Athenians 
took the advice, and Pisistratus became for the third time 
master of Athens. 

64. Upon this he set himself to root his power more firmly, 
by the aid of a numerous body of mercenaries, and by keeping 
up a full exchequer, partly supplied from native sources, partly 
from the countries about the river Strymon. 1 He also de 
manded hostages from many of the Athenians who had remained 
at home, and not left Athens at his approach; and these he 
sent to Naxos, which he had conquered by force of arms, and 
given over into the charge of Lygdamis. Farther, he purified 
the island of Delos, according to the injunctions of an oracle, 
after the following fashion. All the dead bodies which had been 
interred within sight of the temple he dug up, and removed to 
another part of the isle. 2 Thus was the tyranny of Pisistratus 
established at Athens, many of the Athenians having fallen in 
the battle, and many others having fled the country together 
with the son of Alcmseon. 

65. Such was the condition of the Athenians when Croesus 
made inquiry concerning them. 3 Proceeding to seek informa 
tion concerning the Lacedaemonians, he learnt that, after pass 
ing through a period of great depression, they had lately been 
victorious in a war with the people of Tegea; for, during the 
joint reign of Leo and Agasicles, kings of Sparta, the Lace 
daemonians, successful in all their other wars, suffered continual 
defeat at the hands of the Tegeans. At a still earlier period 
they had been the very worst governed people in Greece, as 
well in matters of internal management as in their relations 

1 The revenues of Pisistratus were derived in part from the income- 
tax of five per cent, which he levied from his subjects (Thucyd. vi. 54. 
AOrjvalovs elKo^r^v Trpacr<76/j.voL TWV yiyvo/mtvuv), in part probably from 
the silver-mines at Laurium, which a little later were so remarkably pro 
ductive (Herod, vii. 144). He had also a third source of revenue, of which 
Herodotus here speaks, consisting apparently either of lands or mines 
lying near the Strymon, and belonging to him probably in his private 
capacity. That part of Thrace was famous for its gold and silver mines. 

a Compare Thucyd. iii. 104. 

3 The embassy of Croesus cannot possibly have been subsequent to the 
final establishment of Pisistratus at Athens, which was in B.C. 542 at the 
earliest. It probably occurred during his first term of power. 

CHAP. 64-66. Lycurgus 3 1 

towards foreigners, from whom they kept entirely aloof. The 
circumstances which led to their being well governed were the 
following : Lycurgus, a man of distinction among the Spartans, 
had gone to Delphi, to visit the oracle. Scarcely had he entered 
into the inner fane, when the Pythoness exclaimed aloud, 

Oh ! them great Lycurgus, that cpm st to my beautiful dwelling* 
Dear to Jove, and to all who sit in the halls of Olympus, 
Whether to hail thee a god I know not, or only a mortal, 
But my hope is strong that a god thou wilt prove, Lycurgus. 

Some report besides, that the Pythoness delivered to him the 
entire system of laws which are still observed by the Spartans. 
The Lacedaemonians, however, themselves assert that Lycurgus, 
when he was guardian of his nephew, Labotas, king of Sparta, 
and regent in his room, introduced them from Crete; for as 
soon as he became regent, he altered the whole of the existing 
customs, substituting new ones, which he took care should be 
observed by all. After this he arranged whatever appertained 
to war, establishing the Enomotiae, Triacades, and Syssitia, 1 
besides which he instituted the senate, 2 and the ephoralty. 
Such was the way in which the Lacedaemonians became a well- 
governed people. 

66. On the death of Lycurgus they built him a temple, and 
ever since they have worshipped him with the utmost reverence. 
Their soil being good and the population numerous, they sprang 
up rapidly to power, and became a flourishing people. In con 
sequence they soon ceased to be satisfied to stay quiet; and, 
regarding the Arcadians as very much their inferiors, they sent 
to consult the oracle about conquering the whole of Arcadia. 
The Pythoness thus answered them: 

Gravest thou Arcady ? Bold is thy craving. I shall not content it. 

Many the men that in Arcady dwell, whose food is the acorn 

They will never allow thee. It is not I that am niggard. 

I will give thee to dance in Tegea, with noisy foot-fall, 

And with the measuring line mete out the glorious champaign. 

1 The tvwfior iai were divisions of the Spartan cohort (X<5x<>s). Of the 
TpirjKddes nothing seems to be known. They may have been also divisions 
of the army but divisions confined to the camp, not existing in the field. 
The word crv<rcrLTia would seem in this place not to have its ordinary 
signification, " common meals " or " messes," but to be applied to the 
4 set of persons who were appointed to mess together." 

1 It is quite inconceivable that Lycurgus should in any sense have in 
stituted the senate. Lycurgus appears to have made scarcely any changes 
in the constitution. What he did was to alter the customs and habits 
of the people. 

32 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

When the Lacedaemonians received this reply, leaving the rest 
of Arcadia untouched, they marched against the Tegeans, carry 
ing with them fetters, so confident had this oracle (which was, 
in truth, but of base metal) made them that they would enslave 
the Tegeans. The battle, however, went against them, and 
many fell into the enemy s hands. Then these persons, wearing 
the fetters which they had themselves brought, and fastened 
together in a string, measured the Tegean plain as they executed 
their labours. The fetters in which they worked were still, in 
my day, preserved at Tegea where they hung round the walls 
of the temple of Minerva Alea. 1 

67. Throughout the whole of this early contest with the 
Tegeans, the Lacedaemonians met with nothing but defeats; 
but in the time of Croesus, under the kings Anaxandrides and 
Aristo, fortune had turned in their favour, in the manner which 
I will now relate. Having been worsted in every engagement 
by their enemy, they sent to Delphi, and inquired of the oracle 
what god they must propitiate to prevail in the war against the 
Tegeans. The answer of the Pythoness was, that before they 
could prevail, they must remove to Sparta the bones of Orestes, 
the son of Agamemnon. Unable to discover his burial-place, 
they sent a second time, and asked the god where the body of 
the hero had been laid. The following was the answer they 

Level and smooth is the plain where Arcadian Tegea standeth; 
There two winds are ever, by strong necessity, blowing, 
Counter-stroke answers stroke, and evil lies upon evil. 
There all- teeming Earth doth harbour the son of Atrides; 
Bring thou him to thy city, and then be Tegea s master. 

After this reply, the Lacedaemonians were no nearer discovering 
the burial-place than before, though they continued to search 
for it diligently; until at last a man named Lichas, one of the 
Spartans called Agathoergi, found it. The Agathoergi are 
citizens who have just served their time among the knights. 
The five eldest of the knights go out every year, and are bound 
during the year after their discharge, to go wherever the State 
sends them, and actively employ themselves in its service. 

68. Lichas was one of this body when, partly by good luck, 
partly by his own wisdom, he discovered the burial-place. 

1 Minerva Alea was an Arcadian goddess. She was worshipped at 
Mantinea, Manthyrea, and Alea, as well as at Tegea. Her temple at 
Tegea was particularly magnificent. See the description in Pausanias 
(VIII. xlvii. 1-2). 

CHAP. 67-69. The Bones of Orestes 33 

Intercourse between the two States existing just at this time, 
he went to Tegea, and, happening to enter into the workshop 
of a smith, he saw him forging some iron. As he stood marvel 
ling at what he beheld, 1 he was observed by the smith who, 
leaving off his work, went up to him and said, 

" Certainly, then, you Spartan stranger, you would have been 
wonderfully surprised if you had seen what I have, since you 
make a marvel even of the working in iron. I wanted to make 
myself a well in this room, and began to dig it, when what 
think you? I came upon a coffin seven cubits long. I had 
never believed that men were taller in the olden times than 
they are now, so I opened the coffin. The body inside was of 
the same length: I measured it, and filled up the hole again." 

Such was the man s account of what he had seen. The other, 
on turning the matter over in his mind, conjectured that this 
was the body of Orestes, of which the oracle had spoken. He 
guessed so, because he observed that the smithy had two 
bellows, which he understood to be the two winds, and the 
hammer and anvil would do for the stroke and the counter- 
stroke, and the iron that was being wrought for the evil lying 
upon evil. This he imagined might be so because iron had been 
discovered to the hurt of man. Full of these conjectures, he 
sped back to Sparta and laid the whole matter before his 
countrymen. Soon after, by a concerted plan, they brought a 
charge against him, and began a prosecution. Lichas betook 
himself to Tegea, and on his arrival acquainted the smith with 
his misfortune, and proposed to rent his room of him. The 
smith refused for some time ; but at last Lichas persuaded him, 
and took up his abode in it. Then he opened the grave, and 
collecting the bones, returned with them to Sparta. From 
henceforth, whenever the Spartans and the Tegeans made trial 
of each other s skill in arms, the Spartans always had greatly 
the advantage; and by the time to which we are now come 
they were masters of most of the Peloponnese. 

69. Croesus, informed of all these circumstances, sent 
messengers to Sparta, with gifts in their hands, who were to 
ask the Spartans to enter into alliance with him. They re 
ceived strict injunctions as to what they should say, and on 
their arrival at Sparta spake as follows: 

1 Herodotus means to represent that the forging of iron was a novelty 
at the time. Brass was known to the Greeks before iron, as the Homeric 
poems sufficiently indicate. 

34 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

" Croesus, king of the Lydians and of other nations, has sent 
us to speak thus to you; Oh! Lacedaemonians, the god has 
bidden me to make the Greek my friend; I therefore apply to 
you, in conformity with the oracle, knowing that you hold the 
first rank in Greece, and desire to become your friend and ally 
in all true faith and honesty. 

Such was the message which Croesus sent by his heralds. 
The Lacedaemonians, who were aware beforehand of the reply 
given him by the oracle, were full of joy at the coming of the 
messengers, arid at once took the oaths of friendship and alliance : 
this they did the more readily as they had previously contracted 
certain obligations towards him. They had sent to Sardis on 
one occasion to purchase some gold, intending to use it on a 
statue of Apollo the statue, namely, which remains to this 
day at Thornax in Laconia, 1 when Croesus, hearing of the matter, 
gave them as a gift the gold which they wanted. 

70. This was one reason why the Lacedaemonians were so 
willing to make the alliance : another was, because Croesus had 
chosen them for his friends in preference to all the other Greeks. 
They therefore held themselves in readiness to come at his 
summons, and not content with so doing, they further had a 
huge vase made in bronze, covered with figures of animals all 
round the outside of the rim, and large enough to contain three 
hundred amphorae, which they sent to Croesus as a return for 
his presents to them. The vase, however, never reached Sardis. 
Its miscarriage is accounted for in two quite different ways. 
The Lacedsemonian story is, that when it reached Samos, on 
its way towards Sardis, the Samians having knowledge of it, 
put to sea in their ships of war and made it their prize. But 
the Samians declare, that the Lacedaemonians who had the vase 
in charge, happening to arrive too late, and learning that Sardis 
had fallen and that Croesus was a prisoner, sold it in their 
island, and the purchasers (who were, they say, private persons) 
made an offering of it at the shrine of Juno : 2 the sellers were 
very likely on their return to Sparta to have said that they 
had been robbed of it by the Samians. Such, then, was the 
fate of the vase. 

71. Meanwhile Croesus, taking the oracle in a wrong sense, 
led his forces into Cappadocia, fully expecting to defeat Cyrus 

1 Pausanias declares that the gold obtained of Croesus by the Lacedae 
monians was used in fact upon a statue of Apollo at Amyclae (III. x, 10). 
* Vide infra, ii. 182 

CHAP. 70-72. Cappadocia Invaded 35 

and destroy the empire of the Persians. While he was still 
engaged in making preparations for his attack, a Lydian named 
Sandanis, who had always been looked upon as a wise man, 
but who after this obtained a very great name indeed among 
his countrymen, came forward and counselled the king in these 
words : 

Thou art about, oh ! king, to make war against men who 
wear leathern trousers, and have all their other garments of 
leather; 1 who feed not on what they like, but on what they 
can get from a soil that is sterile and unkindly; who do not 
indulge in wine, but drink water; who possess no figs nor any 
thing else that is good to eat. If, then, thou conquerest them, 
what canst thou get from them, seeing that they have nothing 
at all? But if they conquer thee, consider how much that is 
precious thou wilt lose: if they once get a taste of our pleasant 
things, they will keep such hold of them that we shall never be 
able to make them loose their grasp. For my part, I am thank 
ful to the gods, that they have not put it into the hearts of 
the Persians to invade Lydia." 

Croesus was not persuaded by this speech, though it was true 
enough; for before the conquest of Lydia, the Persians pos 
sessed none of the luxuries or delights of life. 

72. The Cappadocians are known to the Greeks by the name 
of Syrians. 2 Before the rise of the Persian power, they had 
been subject to the Medes; but at the present time they were 
within the empire of Cyrus, for the boundary between the 
Median and the Lydian empires was the river Halys. This 
stream, which rises in the mountain country of Armenia, runs 
first through Cilicia; afterwards it flows for a while with the 
Matieni on the right, and the Phrygians on the left: then, when 
they are passed, it proceeds with a northern course, separating 
the Cappadocian Syrians from the Paphlagonians, who occupy 
the left bank, thus forming the boundary of almost the whole 
of Lower Asia, from the sea opposite Cyprus to the Euxine. 
Just there is the neck of the peninsula, a journey of five days 
across for an active walker. 3 

1 For a description of the Persian dress, see note on ch. 135. 

* Vide infra, vii. 72. The Cappadocians of Herodotus inhabit the 
country bounded by the Euxine on the north, the Halys on the west, 
the Armenians apparently on the east (from whom the Cappadocians are 
clearly distinguished, vii. 72-3), and the Matieni on the south. 

* Herodotus tells us in one place (iv. 101) that he reckons the day s 
journey at 200 stadia, that is at about 23 of our miles. If we regard this 

36 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

73. There were two motives which led Croesus to attack 
Cappadocia: firstly, he coveted the land, which he wished to 
add to his own dominions; but the chief reason was, that he 
wanted to revenge on Cyrus the wrongs of Astyages, and was 
made confident by the oracle of being able so to do: for the 
Astyages, son of Cyaxares and king of the Medes, who had been 
dethroned by Cyrus, son of Cambyses, was Croesus brother by 
marriage. This marriage had taken place under circumstances 
which I will now relate. A band of Scythian nomads, who had 
left their own land on occasion of some disturbance, had taken 
refuge in Media. Cyaxares, son of Phraortes, and grandson of 
De ioces, was at that time king of the country. Recognising 
them as suppliants, he began by treating them with kindness, 
and coming presently to esteem them highly, he intrusted to 
their care a number of boys, whom they were to teach their 
language and to instruct in the use of the bow. Time passed, 
and the Scythians employed themselves, day after day, in hunt 
ing, and always brought home some game ; but at last it chanced 
that one day they took nothing. On their return to Cyaxares 
with empty hands, that monarch, who was hot-tempered, as he 
showed upon the occasion, received them very rudely and in 
sultingly. In consequence of this treatment, which they did 
not conceive themselves to have deserved, the Scythians deter 
mined to take one of the boys whom they had in charge, cut 
him in pieces, and then dressing the flesh as they were wont to 
dress that of the wild animals, serve it up to Cyaxares as game : 
after which they resolved to convey themselves with all speed 
to Sardis, to the court of Alyattes, the son of Sadyattes. The 
plan was carried out: Cyaxares and his guests ate of the flesh 
prepared by the Scythians, and they themselves, having accom 
plished their purpose, fled to Alyattes in the guise of suppliants. 

74. Afterwards, on the refusal of Alyattes to give up his 
suppliants when Cyaxares sent to demand them of him, war 
broke out between the Lydians and the Medes, and continued 

as the measure intended here, we must consider that Herodotus imagined 
the isthmus of Natolia to be but 115 miles across, 165 miles short of the 
truth. It must be observed, however, that the ordinary day s journey 
cannot be hi tended by the 656s evf&v y avdpl. The avty etffavos is 
not the mere common traveller. He is the lightly-equipped pedestrian, 
and his day s journey must be estimated at something considerably 
above 200 stades. Herodotus appears to speak not of any particular 
case or cases, but generally of all lightly-equipped pedestrians. He cannot 
therefore be rightly regarded as free from mistake in the matter. Probably 
he considered the isthmus at least 100 miles narrower than it really is. 

CHAP. 73-75. Alyattes and Cyaxares 37 

for five years, with various success. In the course of it the 
Medes gained many victories over the Lydians, and the Lydians 
also gained many victories over the Medes. Among their other 
battles there was one night engagement. As, however, the 
balance had not inclined in favour of either nation, another 
combat took place in the sixth year, in the course of which, 
just as the battle was growing warm, day was on a sudden 
changed into night. This event had been foretold by Thales, 
the Milesian, who forewarned the lonians of it, fixing for it the 
very year in which it actually took place. 1 The Medes and 
Lydians, when they observed the change, ceased fighting, and 
were alike anxious to have terms of peace agreed on. Syennesis 2 
of Cilicia, 3 and Labynetus 4 of Babylon, were the persons who 
mediated between the parties, who hastened the taking of the 
oaths, and brought about the exchange of espousals. It was 
they who advised that Alyattes should give his daughter 
Aryenis in marriage to Astyages the son of Cyaxares, knowing, 
as they did, that without some sure bond of strong necessity, 
there is wont to be but little security in men s covenants. Oaths 
are taken by these people in the same way as by the Greeks, 
except that they make a slight flesh wound in their arms, from 
which each sucks a portion of the other s blood. 5 

75. Cyrus had captured this Astyages, who was his mother s 
father, and kept him prisoner, for a reason which I shall bring 
forward in another part of my history. This capture formed 

1 The prediction of this eclipse by Thales may fairly be classed with the 
prediction of a good olive-crop or of the fall of an aerolite. Thales, indeed, 
could only have obtained the requisite knowledge for predicting eclipses 
from the Chaldaeans, and that the science of these astronomers, although 
sufficient for the investigation of lunar eclipses, did not enable them to 
calculate solar eclipses dependent as such a calculation is, not only on 
the determination of the period of recurrence, but on the true projection 
also of the track of the sun s shadow along a particular line over the surface 
of the earth may be inferred from our finding that in the astronomical 
canon of Ptolemy, which was compiled from the Chaldaean registers, the 
observations of the moon s eclipses are alone entered. 

1 The name Syennesis is common to all the kings of Cilicia mentioned in 
history. It has been supposed not to be really a name, but, like Pharaoh, 
a title. 

* Cilicia had become an independent state, either by the destruction of 
Assyria, or in the course of her decline after the reign of Esarh addon. 
Previously, she had been included in the dominions of the Assyrian kings. 

* The Babylonian monarch at this time was either Nabopolassar or 
Nebuchadnezzar. Neither of these names is properly Hellenised by 
Labynetus. Labynetus is undoubtedly the Nabunahid of the inscrip 
tions, the Nabonadius of the Canon, the Nabonnedus of Berosus and 

6 Vide infra, iv. 70, and Tacit. Annal. xii. 47. 

38 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

the ground of quarrel between Cyrus and Croesus, in consequence 
of which Croesus sent his servants to ask the oracle if he should 
attack the Persians; and when an evasive answer came, fancy 
ing it to be in his favour, carried his arms into the Persian 
territory. When he reached the river Halys, he transported 
his army across it, as I maintain, by the bridges which exist 
there at the present day; 1 but, according to the general belief 
of the Greeks, by the aid of Thales the Milesian. The tale is, 
that Croesus was in doubt how he should get his army across, as 
the bridges were not made at that time, and that Thales, who 
happened to be in the camp, divided the stream and caused it 
to flow on both sides of the army instead of on the left only. 
This he effected thus: Beginning some distance above the 
camp, he dug a deep channel, which he brought round in a 
semicircle, so that it might pass to rearward of the camp; and 
that thus the river, diverted from its natural course into the 
new channel at the point where this left the stream, might flow 
by the station of the army, and afterwards fall again into the 
ancient bed. In this way the river was split into two streams, 
which were both easily fordable. It is said by some that the 
water was entirely drained off from the natural bed of the river. 
But I am of a different opinion; for I do not see how, in that 
case, they could have crossed it on their return. 

76. Having passed the Halys with the forces under his com 
mand, Croesus entered the district of Cappadocia which is called 
Pteria. 2 It lies in the neighbourhood of the city of Sinope" 3 
upon the Euxine, and is the strongest position in the whole 
country thereabouts. Here Croesus pitched his camp, and 
began to ravage the fields of the Syrians. He besieged and 
took the chief city of the Pterians, and reduced the inhabitants 
to slavery : he likewise made himself master of the surrounding 
villages. Thus he brought ruin on the Syrians, who were guilty 

1 The Halys (Kizil Jrtnak] is fordable at no very great distance from its 
mouth, but bridges over it are not unfrequent. These are of a very simple 
construction, consisting of planks laid across a few slender beams, extend 
ing from bank to bank, without any parapet. Bridges with stone piers 
have existed at some former period, but they belong probably to Roman, 
and not to any earlier times. The ancient constructions mentioned by 
Herodotus are more likely to have been of the modern type. 

2 Pteria in Herodotus is a district, not a city. 

a Sinop6, which recent events have once more made famous, was a 
colony of the Milesians, founded about B.C. 630 (infra, iv. 12). It occupied 
the neck of a small peninsula projecting into the Euxine towards the north 
east, in lat. 42, long. 35*, nearly. The ancient town has been completely 
ruined, and the modern is built of its fragments. 

CHAP. 76-77. CrCESUS RetreatS 39 

of no offence towards him. Meanwhile, Cyrus had levied an 
army and marched against Croesus, increasing his numbers at 
every step by the forces of the nations that lay in his way. 
Before beginning his march he had sent heralds to the loniaos, 
with an invitation to them to revolt from the Lydian king: 
they, however, had refused compliance. Cyrus, notwithstand 
ing, marched against the enemy, and encamped opposite them 
in the district of Pteria, where the trial of strength took place 
between the contending powers. The combat was hot and 
bloody, and upon both sides the number of the slain was great; 
nor had victory declared in favour of either party, when night 
came down upon the battle-field. Thus both armies fought 

77. Croesus laid the blame of his ill success on the number 
of his troops, which fell very short of the enemy ; and as on the 
next day Cyrus did not repeat the attack, he set off on his 
return to Sardis, intending to collect his allies and renew the 
contest in the spring. He meant to call on the Egyptians to 
send him aid, according to the terms of the alliance which he 
had concluded with Amasis, 1 previously to his league with the 
Lacedaemonians. He intended also to summon to his assistance 
the Babylonians, under their king Labynetus, 2 for they too were 
bound to him by treaty: and further, he meant to send word 
to Sparta, and appoint a day for the coming of their succours. 
Having got together these forces in addition to his own, he 
would, as soon as the winter was past and springtime come, 
march once more against the Persians. With these intentions 
Croesus, immediately on his return, despatched heralds to his 
various allies, with a request that they would join him at Sardis 
in the course of the fifth month from the time of the departure 
of his messengers. He then disbanded the army consisting of 
mercenary troops which had been engaged with the Persians 
and had since accompanied him to his capital, and let them 
depart to their homes, never imagining that Cyrus, after a battle 
in which victory had been so evenly balanced, would venture to 
march upon Sardis. 

1 The treaty of Amasis with Croesus would suffice to account for the 
hostility of the Persians against Egypt. 

a Undoubtedly the Nabonadius of the Canon, and the Nabunahid of the 
monuments. The fact that it was with this monarch that Croesus made his 
treaty helps greatly to fix the date of the fail of Sardis; it proves that 
that event cannot have happened earlier than B.C. 554. For Nabunahid did 
not ascend the throne till B.C. 555, and a full year must be allowed between 
the conclusion of the treaty and the taking of the Lydian capital. 

40 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

78. While Croesus was still in this mind, all the suburbs of 
Sardis were found to swarm with snakes, on the appearance of 
which the horses left feeding in the pasture-grounds, and flocked 
to the suburbs to eat them. The king, who witnessed the 
unusual sight, regarded it very rightly as a prodigy. He there 
fore instantly sent messengers to the soothsayers of Telmessus, 1 
to consult them upon the matter. His messengers reached the 
city, and obtained from the Telmessians an explanation of what 
the prodigy portended, but fate did not allow them to inform 
their lord; for ere they entered Sardis on their return, Croesus 
was a prisoner. What the Telmessians had declared was, that 
Croesus must look for the entry of an army of foreign invaders 
into his country, and that when they came they would subdue 
the native inhabitants; since the snake, said they, is a child of 
earth, and the horse a warrior and a foreigner. Croesus was 
already a prisoner when the Telmessians thus answered his 
inquiry, but they had no knowledge of what was taking place 
at Sardis, or of the fate of the monarch. 

79. Cyrus, however, when Croesus broke up so suddenly from 
his quarters after the battle at Pteria, conceiving that he had 
marched away with the intention of disbanding his army, con 
sidered a little, and soon saw that it was advisable for him to 
advance upon Sardis with all haste, before the Lydians could 
get their forces together a second time. Having thus deter 
mined, he lost no time in carrying out his plan. He marched 
forward with such speed that he was himself the first to an 
nounce his coming to the Lydian king. That monarch, placed 
in the utmost difficulty by the turn of events which had gone 
so entirely against all his calculations, nevertheless led out the 
Lydians to battle. In all Asia there was not at that time a 
braver or more warlike people. Their manner of fighting was 
on horseback; they carried long lances, and were clever in the 
management of their steeds. 

80. The two armies met in the plain before Sardis. It is a 
vast flat, bare of trees, watered by the Hyllus and a number of 
other streams, which all flow into one larger than the rest, 
called the Hermus. 2 This river rises in the sacred mountain of 

1 Three distinct cities of Asia Minor are called by this name. The 
Lycian Telmessus lay upon the coast occupying the site of the modern 
village of Makri, where are some curious remains, especially tombs, partly 
Greek, partly native Lycian. 

8 Sardis (the modern Sart) stood in the broad valley of the Hermus at 
a point where the hills approach each other more closely than in any other 

CHAP. 78-81. Croesus Defeated 4 1 

the Dindymenian Mother, 1 and falls into the sea near the town 
of Phocaea. 2 

When Cyrus beheld the Lydians arranging themselves in order 
of battle on this plain, fearful of the strength of their cavalry, 
he adopted a device which Harpagus, one of the Medes, sug 
gested to him. He collected together all the camels that had 
come in the train of his army to carry the provisions and the 
baggage, and taking oft their loads, he mounted riders upon 
them accoutred as horsemen. These he commanded to advance 
in front of his other troops against the Lydian horse; behind 
them were to follow the foot soldiers, and last of all the cavalry. 
When his arrangements were complete, he gave his troops orders 
to slay all the other Lydians who came in their way without 
mercy, but to spare Croesus and not kill him, even if he should 
be seized and offer resistance. The reason why Cyrus opposed 
his camels to the enemy s horse was, because the horse has a 
natural dread of the camel, and cannot abide either the sight 
or the smell of that animal. By this stratagem he hoped to 
make Croesus s horse useless to him, the horse being what he 
chiefly depended on for victory. The two armies then joined 
battle, and immediately the Lydian war-horses, seeing and 
smelling the camels, turned round and galloped off; and so it 
came to pass that all Croesus s hopes withered away. The 
Lydians, however, behaved manfully. As soon as they under 
stood what was happening, they leaped off their horses, and 
engaged with the Persians on foot. The combat was long ; but 
at last, after a great slaughter on both sides, the Lydians turned 
and fled. They were driven within their walls, and the Persians 
laid siege to Sardis. 

81. Thus the siege began. Meanwhile Croesus, thinking that 
the place would hold out no inconsiderable time, sent off fresh 
heralds to his allies from the beleaguered town. His former 
messengers had been charged to bid them assemble at Sardis in 
the course of the fifth month; they whom he now sent were to 
say that he was already besieged, and to beseech them to come 
to his aid with all possible speed. Among his other allies 
Croesus did not omit to send to Lacedaemon. 

place. Some vestiges of the ancient town remain, but, except the ruins 
of the great temple of Cybele (infra, v. 102), they seem to be of a late 

The Dindymenian mother was Cybele, the special deity of Phrygia. 
*The Hermus (Ghiediz-Chai) now falls into the sea very much nearer 
to Smyrna than to Phocaea. Its course is perpetually changing. 

42 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

82. It chanced, however, that the Spartans were themselves 
just at this time engaged in a quarrel with the Argives about a 
place called Thyrea, 1 which was within the limits of Argolis, 
but had been seized on by the Lacedemonians. Indeed, the 
whole country westward, as far as Cape Malea, belonged once 
to the Argives, and not only that entire tract upon the main 
land, but also Cythera, and the other islands. The Argives 
collected troops to resist the seizure of Thyrea, but before any 
battle was fought, the two parties came to terms, and it was 
agreed that three hundred Spartans and three hundred Argives 
should meet and fight for the place, which should belong to the 
nation with whom the victory rested. It was stipulated also 
that the other troops on each side should return home to their 
respective countries, and not remain to witness the combat, as 
there was danger, if the armies stayed, that either the one or 
the other, on seeing their countrymen undergoing defeat, might 
hasten to their assistance. These terms being agreed on, the 
two armies marched off, leaving three hundred picked men on 
each side to fight for the territory. The battle began, and so 
equal were the combatants, that at the close of the day, when 
night put a stop to the fight, of the whole six hundred only 
three men remained alive, two Argives, Alcanor and Chromius, 
and a single Spartan, Othryadas. The two Argives, regarding 
themselves as the victors, hurried to Argos. Othryadas, the 
Spartan, remained upon the field, and, stripping the bodies of 
the Argives who had fallen, carried their armour to the Spartan 
camp. Next day the two armies returned to learn the result. 
At first they disputed, both parties claiming the victory, the 
one, because they had the greater number of survivors; the 
other, because their man remained on the field, and stripped 
the bodies of the slain, whereas the two men of the other side 
ran away; but at last they fell from words to blows, and a 
battle was fought, in which both parties suffered great loss, but 
at the end the Lacedaemonians gained the victory. Upon this 
the Argives, who up to that time had worn their hair long, cut 
it off close, and made a law, to which they attached a curse, 
binding themselves never more to let their hair grow, and never 
to allow their women to wear gold, until they should recover 
Thyrea. At the same time the Lacedaemonians made a law the 
very reverse of this, namely, to wear their hair long, though 

1 Thyrea was the chief town of the district called Cyauria, the border 
territory between Laconia and Argolis (cf. Thucyd. v. 41). 

CHAP. 82-85. Sardis Taken 43 

they had always before cut it close. Othryadas himself, it is 
said, the sole survivor of the three hundred, prevented by a 
sense of shame from returning to Sparta after all his comrades 
had fallen, laid violent hands upon himself in Thyrea. 

83. Although the Spartans were engaged with these matters 
when the herald arrived from Sardis to entreat them to come 
to the assistance of the besieged king, yet, notwithstanding, 
they instantly set to work to afford him help. They had com 
pleted their preparations, and the ships were just ready to start, 
when a second message informed them that the place had 
already fallen, and that Croesus was a prisoner. Deeply grieved 
at his misfortune, the Spartans ceased their efforts. 

84. The following is the way in which Sardis was taken. On 
the fourteenth day of the siege Cyrus bade some horsemen ride 
about his lines, and make proclamation to the whole army that 
he would give a reward to the man who should first mount the 
wall. After this he made an assault, but without success. His 
troops retired, but a certain Mardian, Hyroeades by name, 
resolved to approach the citadel and attempt it at a place where 
no guards were ever set. On this side the rock was so pre 
cipitous, and the citadel (as it seemed) so impregnable, that no 
fear was entertained of its being carried in this place. Here 
was the only portion of the circuit round which their old king 
Meles did not carry the lion which his leman bore to him. For 
when the Telmessians had declared that if the lion were taken 
round the defences, Sardis would be impregnable, and Meles, in 
consequence, carried it round the rest of the fortress where the 
citadel seemed open to attack, he scorned to take it round this 
side, which he looked on as a sheer precipice, and therefore 
absolutely secure. It is on that side of the city which faces 
Mount Tmolus. Hyrceades, however, having the day before 
observed a Lydian soldier descend the rock after a helmet that 
had rolled down from the top, and having seen him pick it up 
and carry it back, thought over what he had witnessed, and 
formed his plan. He climbed the rock himself, and other Per 
sians followed in his track, until a large number had mounted 
to the top. Thus was Sardis taken, 1 and given up entirely to 

85. With respect to Croesus himself, this is what befell him 
at the taking of the town. He had a son, of whom I made 

1 Sardis was taken a second time in almost exactly the same way by 
Lagoras, one of the generals of Antiochus the Great. 

44 The History of Herodotus BOOK i 

mention above, a worthy youth, whose only defect was that he 
was deaf and dumb. In the days of his prosperity Croesus had 
done the utmost that he could for him, and among other plans 
which he had devised, had sent to Delphi to consult the oracle 
on his behalf. The answer which he had received from the 
Pythoness ran thus: 

Lydian, wide-ruling monarch, thou wondrous simple Croesus, 
Wish not ever to hear in thy palace the voice thou hast prayed for, 
Uttering intelligent sounds. Far better thy son should be silent! 
Ah ! woe worth the day when thine ear shall first list to his accents. 

When the town was taken, one of the Persians was just going 
to kill Croesus, not knowing who he was. Croesus saw the man 
coming, but under the pressure of his affliction, did not care to 
avoid the blow, not minding whether or no he died beneath the 
stroke. Then this son of his, who was voiceless, beholding the 
Persian as he rushed towards Croesus, in the agony of his fear 
and grief burst into speech, and said, " Man, do not kill Croesus." 
This was the first time that he had ever spoken a word, but 
afterwards he retained the power of speech for the remainder 
of his life. 

86. Thus was Sardis taken by the Persians, and Croesus him 
self fell into their hands, after having reigned fourteen years, 
and been besieged in his capital fourteen days; thus too did 
Croesus fulfil the oracle, which said that he should destroy a 
mighty empire, by destroying his own. Then the Persians 
who had made Croesus prisoner brought him before Cyrus. Now 
a vast pile had been raised by his orders, and Croesus, laden 
with fetters, was placed upon it, and with him twice seven 
of the sons of the Lydians. I know not whether Cyrus was 
minded to make an offering of the first-fruits to some god or 
other, or whether he had vowed a vow and was performing it, 
or whether, as may well be, he had heard that Croesus was a 
holy man, and so wished to see if any of the heavenly powers 
would appear to save him from being burnt alive. However it 
might be, Cyrus was thus engaged, and Croesus was already on 
the pile, when it entered his mind in the depth of his woe that 
there was a divine warning in the words which had come to 
him from the lips of Solon, " No one while he lives is happy." 
When this thought smote him he fetched a long breath, and 
breaking his deep silence, groaned out aloud, thrice uttering the 
name of Solon. Cyrus caught the sounds, and bade the inter 
preters inquire of Croesus who it was he called on. They drew 

CHAP. 86-87. Deliverance of Crcesus 45 

near and asked him, but he held his peace, and for a long time 
made no answer to their questionings, until at length, forced to 
say something, he exclaimed, * One I would give much to see 
converse with every monarch." Not knowing what he meant 
by this reply, the interpreters begged him to explain himself; 
and as they pressed for an answer, and grew to be troublesome, 
he told them how, a long time before, Solon, an Athenian, had 
come and seen all his splendour, and made light of it; and how 
whatever he had said to him had fallen out exactly as he fore 
showed, although it was nothing that especially concerned him, 
but applied to all mankind alike, and most to those who seemed 
to themselves happy. Meanwhile, as he thus spoke, the pile 
was lighted, and the outer portion began to blaze. Then Cyrus, 
hearing from the interpreters what Crcesus had said, relented, 
bethinking himself that he too was a man, and that it was a 
fellow-man, and one who had once been as blessed by fortune 
as himself, that he was burning alive; afraid, moreover, of 
retribution, and full of the thought that whatever is human is 
insecure. So he bade them quench the blazing fire as quickly 
as they could, and take down Crcesus and the other Lydians, 
which they tried to do, but the flames were not to be mastered. 
87. Then, the Lydians say that Crcesus, perceiving by the 
efforts made to quench the fire that Cyrus had relented, and 
seeing also that all was in vain, and that the men could not get 
the fire under, called with a loud voice upon the god Apollo, 
and prayed him, if he had ever received at his hands any 
acceptable gift, to come to his aid, and deliver him from his 
present danger. As thus with tears he besought the god, 
suddenly, though up to that time the sky had been clear and 
the day without a breath of wind, 1 dark clouds gathered, and 
the storm burst over their heads with rain of such violence, that 
the flames were speedily extinguished. Cyrus, convinced by 
this that Crcesus was a good man and a favourite of heaven, 
asked him after he was taken off the pile, " Who it was that 
had persuaded him to lead an army into his country, and so 
become his foe rather than continue his friend ? " to which 
Croesus made answer as follows: " What I did, ohl king, was 
to thy advantage and to my own loss. If there be blame, it 
rests with the god of the Greeks, who encouraged me to begin 
the war. No one is so foolish as to prefer war to peace, in 

The later romancers regarded this incident as over-marvellous, and 
softened down the miracle considerably. 

46 The History of Herodotus BOOK L 

which, instead of sons burying their fathers, fathers bury their 
sons. But the gods willed it so." * 

88. Thus did Croesus speak. Cyrus then ordered his fetters 
to be taken off, and made him sit down near himself, and paid 
him much respect, looking upon him, as did also the courtiers, 
with a sort of wonder. Croesus, wrapped in thought, uttered 
no word. After a while, happening to turn and perceive the 
Persian soldiers engaged in plundering the town, he said to 
Cyrus, May I now tell thee, oh ! king, what I have in my 
mind, or is silence best? Cyrus bade him speak his mind 
boldly. Then he put this question: " What is it, oh! Cyrus, 
which those men yonder are doing so busily? " " Plundering 
thy city," Cyrus answered, and carrying off thy riches." 

( Not my city," rejoined the other, " nor my riches. They are 
not mine any more. It is thy wealth which they are pillaging." 

89. Cyrus, struck by what Croesus had said, bade all the court 
to withdraw, and then asked Croesus what he thought it best 
for him to do as regarded the plundering. Croesus answered, 

* Now that the gods have made me thy slave, oh ! Cyrus, it 
seems to me that it is my part, if I see anything to thy advan 
tage, to show it to thee. Thy subjects, the Persians, are a poor 
people with a proud spirit. If then thou lettest them pillage 
and possess themselves of great wealth, I will tell thee what 
thou hast to expect at their hands. The man who gets the 
most, look to having him rebel against thee. Now then, if my 
words please thee, do thus, oh! king: Let some of thy body 
guards be placed as sentinels at each of the city gates, and let 
them take their booty from the soldiers as they leave the town, 
and tell them that they do so because the tenths are due to 
Jupiter. So wilt thou escape the hatred they would feel if the 
plunder were taken away from them by force; and they, seeing 
that what is proposed is just, will do it willingly." 

90. Cyrus was beyond measure pleased with this advice, so 

1 Modern critics seem not to have been the first to object to this entire 
narrative, that the religion of the Persians did not allow the burning 01 
human beings (vide infra, iii. 16). The objection had evidently been made 
before the time of Nicolas of Damascus, who meets it indirectly in his 
narrative. The Persians (he gives us to understand) had for some time 
before this neglected the precepts of Zoroaster, and allowed his ordinances 
with respect to fire to fall into desuetude. The miracle whereby Croesus 
was snatched from the flames reminded them of their ancient creed, anc 
induced them to re-establish the whole system of Zoroaster. It ma> 
be doubted, however, whether the system of Zoroaster was at this timt 
any portion of the Persian religion. 

CHAP. 88-91. The Oracle Reproached 47 

excellent did it seem to him. He praised Croesus highly, and 
gave orders to his body-guard to do as he had suggested. Then, 
turning to Croesus, he said, " Oh 1 Croesus, I see that thou art 
resolved both in speech and act to show thyself a virtuous 
prince: ask me, therefore, whatever thou wilt as a gift at this 
moment." Croesus replied, " Oh ! my lord, if thou wilt suffer 
me to send these fetters to the god of the Greeks, whom I once 
honoured above all other gods, and ask him if it is his wont to 
deceive his benefactors, that will be the highest favour thou 
canst confer on me." Cyrus upon this inquired what charge 
he had to make against the god. Then Croesus gave him a full 
account of all his projects, and of the answers of the oracle, and 
of the offerings which he had sent, on which he dwelt especially, 
and told him how it was the encouragement given him by the 
oracle which had led him to make war upon Persia. All this he 
related, and at the end again besought permission to reproach 
the god with his behaviour. Cyrus answered with a laugh, 
" This I readily grant thee, and whatever else thou shalt at any 
time ask at my hands." Croesus, finding his request allowed, 
sent certain Lydians to Delphi, enjoining them to lay his fetters 
upon the threshold of the temple, and ask the god, " If he were 
not ashamed of having encouraged him, as the destined destroyer 
of the empire of Cyrus, to begin a war with Persia, of which 
such were the first-fruits ? As they said this they were to 
point to the fetters; and further they were to inquire, " if it 
was the wont of the Greek gods to be ungrateful? 

91. The Lydians went to Delphi and delivered their message, 
on which the Pythoness is said to have replied " It is not 
possible even for a god to escape the decree of destiny. Croesus 
has been punished for the sin of his fifth ancestor, 1 who, when 
he was one of the body-guard of the Heraclides, joined in a 
woman s fraud, and, slaying his master, wrongfully seized the 
throne. Apollo was anxious that the fall of Sardis should not 
happen in the lifetime of Croesus, but be delayed to his son s 
days ; he could not, however, persuade the Fates. All that they 
were willing to allow he took and gave to Croesus. Let Croesus 
know that Apollo delayed the taking of Sardis three full years, 
and that he is thus a prisoner three years later than was his 
destiny. Moreover it was Apollo who saved him from the burn 
ing pile. Nor has Croesus any right to complain with respect 
to the oracular answer which he received, For when the god 

1 Vide supra, ch. 13. 

I 405 c 

48 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

told him that, if he attacked the Persians, he would destroy a 
mighty empire, he ought, if he had been wise, to have sent 
again and inquired which empire was meant, that of Cyrus or 
his own; but if he neither understood what was said, nor took 
the trouble to seek for enlightenment, he has only himself to 
blame for the result. Besides, he had misunderstood the last 
answer which had been given him about the mule. Cyrus was 
that mule. For the parents of Cyrus were of different races, 
and of different conditions, his mother a Median princess, 
daughter of King Astyages, and his father a Persian and a 
subject, who, though so far beneath her in all respects, had 
married his royal mistress." 

Such was the answer of the Pythoness. The Lydians re 
turned to Sardis and communicated it to Crcesus, who confessed, 
on hearing it, that the fault was his, not the god s. Such was 
the way in which Ionia was first conquered, and so was the 
empire of Croesus brought to a close. 

92. Besides the offerings which have been already mentioned, 
there are many others in various parts of Greece presented by 
Croesus; as at Thebes in Bceotia, where there is a golden tripod, 
dedicated by him to Ismenian Apollo ; l at Ephesus, where the 
golden heifers, and most of the columns are his gift; and at 
Delphi, in the temple of Pronaia, 2 where there is a huge shield 
in gold, which he gave. All these offerings were still in exist 
ence in my day; many others have perished: among them 
those which he dedicated at Branchidae in Milesia, equal in 
weight, as I am informed, and in all respects like to those at 
Delphi. The Delphian presents, and those sent to Amphiaraus. 
came from his own private property, being the first-fruits of the 
fortune which he inherited from his father; his other offerings 
came from the riches of an enemy, who, before he mounted the 
throne, headed a party against him, with the view of obtaining 
the crown of Lydia for Pantaleon. This Pantaleon was a soi 
of Alyattes, but by a different mother from Croesus; for tru 
mother of Crcesus was a Carian woman, but the mother o 

1 The river Ismenius washed the foot of the hill on which this tempi 
stood (Paus. ix. 10, 2); hence the phrase " Ismenian Apollo." 

1 The temple of Minerva at Delphi stood in front of the great tempi 
of Apollo. Hence the Delphian Minerva was called Minerva Pronai 
(dia r6 irpb rov vaov i5pv<T6ai, as Harpocration says). Vide infra, vii 
37. Pausanias mentions that the shield was no longer there in his da] 
It had been carried ofi by Philomelas, the Phocian general in the Sacre 
War (Paus. x. viii. 4). 

CHAP. 92-93. Tomb of Alyattcs 49 

Pantaleon an Ionian. When, by the appointment of his father, 
Croesus obtained the kingly dignity, 1 he seized the man who had 
plotted against him, and broke him upon the wheel. His pro 
perty, which he had previously devoted to the service of the 
gods, Croesus applied in the way mentioned above. This is all 
I shall say about his offerings. 

93. Lydia, unlike most other countries, scarcely offers any 
wonders for the historian to describe, except the gold-dust which 
is washed down from the range of Tmolus. It has, however, 
one structure of enormous size, only inferior to the monuments 
of Egypt 2 and Babylon. This is the tomb of Alyattes, 3 the 
father of Croesus, the base of which is formed of immense blocks 
of stone, the rest being a vast mound of earth. It was raised 
by the joint labour of the tradesmen, handicraftsmen, and 
courtesans of Sardis, and had at the top five stone pillars, which 
remained to my day, with inscriptions cut on them, showing 

1 This has been supposed to mean that Alyattes associated Croesus with 
him in the government. But there are no sufficient grounds for such 
an opinion. Association, common enough in Egypt, was very rarely 
practised in the East until the time of the Sassanian princes; and does 
not seem ever to obtain unless where the succession is doubtful. 

The colossal size of the monuments in Egypt is sufficiently known. 
They increased in size as the power of Egypt advanced. The taste for 
colossal statues is often supposed to be peculiarly Egyptian; but the 
Greeks had some as large as, and even larger than, any in Egypt. 

3 The following account of the external appearance of this monument, 
which still exists on the north bank of the Hermus, near the ruins of the 
ancient Sardis, is given by Mr. Hamilton (Asia Minor, vol. i. pp. 145-6) : 
One mile south of this spot we reached the principal tumulus, generally 
designated as the tomb of Halyattes. It took us about ten minutes to 
ride round its base, which would give it a circumference of nearly half a 
mile. Towards the north it consists of the natural rock, a white horizon 
tally-stratified earthy limestone, cut away so as to appear as part of the 
structure. The upper portion is sand and gravel, apparently brought 
from the bed of the Hermus. Several deep ravines have been worn by 
time and weather in its sides, particularly on that to the south : we followed 
ane of these as affording a better footing than the smooth grass, as we 
ascended to the summit. Here we found the remains of a foundation 
aearly eighteen feet square, on the north of which was a huge circular 
stone, ten feet in diameter, with a flat bottom and a raised edge or lip, 
evidently placed there as an ornament on the apex of the tumulus. 
Herodotus says that phalli were erected upon the summit of some of these 
tumuli, of which this may be one; but Mr. Strickland supposes that a 
rude representation of the human face might be traced on its weather- 
Deaten surface. In consequence of the ground sloping to the south, this 
:umulus appears much higher when viewed from the side of Sardis than 
Tom any other. It rises at an angle of about 22, and is a conspicuous 
>bject on all sides.* 

Besides the barrow of Alyattes there are a vast number of ancient 
.umuli on the shores of the Gygaean lake. Three or four of these arc 
;carcely inferior in size to that of Alyattes. 

50 The History of Herodotus BOOK i, 

how much of the work was done by each class of workpeople. 
It appeared on measurement that the portion of the courtesans 
was the largest. The daughters of the common people in Lydia, 
one and all, pursue this traffic, wishing to collect money for 
their portions. They continue the practice till they marry ; and 
are wont to contract themselves in marriage. The tomb is six 
stades and two plethra in circumference; its breadth is thirteen 
plethra. Close to the tomb is a large lake, which the Lydians 
say is never dry. 1 They call it the Lake Gygsea. 

94. The Lydians have very nearly the same customs as the 
Greeks, with the exception that these last do not bring up their 
girls in the same way. So far as we have any knowledge, they 
were the first nation to introduce the use of gold and silver 
coin, 2 and the first who sold goods by retail. They claim also 
the invention of all the games which are common to them with 
the Greeks. These they declare that they invented about the 
time when they colonised Tyrrhenia, an event of which they 
give the following account. In the days of Atys the son of 
Manes, there was great scarcity through the whole land of 
Lydia. For some time the Lydians bore the affliction patiently, 
but finding that it did not pass away, they set to work to devise 
remedies for the evil. Various expedients were discovered by 
various persons ; dice, and huckle-bones, and ball, 3 and all such 
games were invented, except tables, the invention of which they 
do not claim as theirs. The plan adopted against the famine 
was to engage in games one day so entirely as not to feel any 
craving for food, and the next day to eat and abstain from 
games. In this way they passed eighteen years. Still the 
affliction continued and even became more grievous. So the 
king determined to divide the nation in half, and to make the 
two portions draw lots, the one to stay, the other to leave the 
land. He would continue to reign over those whose lot it 
should be to remain behind ; the emigrants should have his son 
Tyrrhenus for their leader. The lot was cast, and they who had 
to emigrate went down to Smyrna, and built themselves ships, 
in which, after they had put on board all needful stores, they 
sailed away in search of new homes and better sustenance. 

This lake is still a remarkable feature in the scene. 

1 It is probable that the Greeks derived their first knowledge of coined 
money from the Asiatics with whom they came into contact in Asia Minor. 

3 The ball was a very old game, and it was doubtless invented in Egypt, 
as Plato says. It is mentioned by Homer (Od. viii. 372), and it was known 
in Egypt long before his time, in the twelfth dynasty. 

CHAP. 94-96. Rise of the Median Empire 5 1 

After sailing past many countries they came to Umbria, 1 where 
they built cities for themselves, and fixed their residence. Their 
former name of Lydians they laid aside, and called themselves 
after the name of the king s son, who led the colony, Tyrrhenians. 

95. Thus far I have been engaged in showing how the Lydians 
were brought under the Persian yoke, The course of my history 
now compels me to inquire wha this Cyrus was by whom the 
Lydian empire was destroyed, and by what means the Persians 
had become the lords paramount of Asia. And herein I shall 
follow those Persian authorities whose object it appears to be 
not to magnify the exploits of Cyrus, but to relate the simple 
truth. I know besides three ways in which the story of Cyrus 
is told, all differing from rny own narrative. 

The Assyrians had held the Empire of Upper Asia for the 
space of five hundred and twenty years, when the Medes set 
the example of revolt from their authority. They took arms 
for the recovery of their freedom, and fought a battle with the 
Assyrians, in which they behaved with such gallantry as to 
shake off the yoke of servitude, and to become a free people. 
Upon their success the other nations also revolted and regained 
their independence. 

96. Thus the nations over that whole extent of country 
obtained the blessing of self-government, but they fell again 
under the sway of kings, in the manner which I will now relate. 
There was a certain Mede named Deioces, son of Phraortes, a 
man of much wisdom, who had conceived the desire of obtaining 
to himself the sovereign power. In furtherance of his ambition, 
therefore, he formed and carried into execution the following 
scheme. As the Medes at that time dwelt in scattered villages 
without any central authority, and lawlessness in consequence 
prevailed throughout the land, Deioces, who was already a man 
of mark in his own village, applied himself with greater zeal 
and earnestness than ever before to the practice of justice among 
his fellows. It was his conviction that justice and injustice are 
engaged in perpetual war with one another. He therefore 
began this course of conduct, and presently the men of his 
village, observing his integrity, chose him to be the arbiter of 
all their disputes. Bent on obtaining the sovereign power, he 
showed himself an honest and an upright judge, and by these 
means gained such credit with his fellow-citizens as to attract 

1 The Umbria of Herodotus appears to include almost the whole of 
Northern Italy, 

52 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

the attention of those who lived in the surrounding villages. 
They had long been suffering from unjust and oppressive judg 
ments; so that, when they heard of the singular uprightness of 
Deioces, and of the equity of his decisions, they joyfully had 
recourse to him in the various quarrels and suits that arose, 
until at last they came to put confidence in no one else. 

97. The number of complaints brought before him continually 
increasing, as people learnt more and more the fairness of his 
judgments, Deioces, feeling himself now all important, an 
nounced that he did not intend any longer to hear causes, and 
appeared no more in the seat in which he had been accustomed 
to sit and administer justice. It did not square with his 
interests," he said, " to spend the whole day in regulating other 
men s affairs to the neglect of his own." Hereupon robbery and 
lawlessness broke out afresh, and prevailed through the country 
even more than heretofore; wherefore the Medes assembled 
from all quarters, and held a consultation on the state of affairs. 
The speakers, as I think, were chiefly friends of Deioces. " We 
cannot possibly," they said, " go on living in this country if 
things continue as they now are; let us therefore set a king 
over us, that so the land may be well governed, and we our 
selves may be able to attend to our own affairs, and not be 
forced to quit our country on account of anarchy." The 
assembly was persuaded by these arguments, and resolved to 
appoint a king. 

98. It followed to determine who should be chosen to the 
office. When this debate began the claims of Deioces and his 
praises were at once in every mouth; so that presently all 
agreed that he should be king. Upon this he required a palace 
to be built for him suitable to his rank, and a guard to be 
given him for his person. The Medes complied, and built him 
a strong and large palace, 1 on a spot which he himself pointed 
out, and likewise gave him liberty to choose himself a body 
guard from the whole nation. Thus settled upon the throne, 
he further required them to build a single great city, and, dis 
regarding the petty towns in which they had formerly dwelt, 
make the new capital the object of their chief attention. The 
Medes were again obedient, and built the city now called 
Agbatana, 2 the walls of which are of great size and strength, 

1 The royal palace at Agbatana is said by Polybius to have been 7 stades 
(more than four-fifths of a mile) in circumference. 

* There is every reason to believe that the original form of the name 

CHAP. 97-100. Agbatana 53 

rising in circles one within the other. The plan of the place is, 
that each of the walls should out-top the one beyond it by the 
battlements. The nature of the ground, which is a gentle hill, 
favours this arrangement in some degree, but it was mainly 
effected by art. The number of the circles is seven, the royal 
palace and the treasuries standing within the last. The circuit 
of the outer wall is very nearly the same with that of Athens. 
Of this wall the battlements are white, 1 of the next black, of 
the third scarlet, of the fourth blue, of the fifth orange; all 
these are coloured with paint. The two last have their battle 
ments coated respectively with silver and gold. 2 

99. All these fortifications Deioces caused to be raised for 
himself and his own palace. The people were required to build 
their dwellings outside the circuit of the walls. When the 
town was finished, he proceeded to arrange the ceremonial. 
He allowed no one to have direct access to the person of the 
king, but made all communication pass through the hands of 
messengers, and forbade the king to be seen by his subjects. 
He also made it an offence for any one whatsoever to laugh or 
spit in the royal presence. This ceremonial, of which he was 
the first inventor, Deioces established for his own security, fear 
ing that his compeers, who were brought up together with him, 
and were of as good family as he, and no whit inferior to him 
in manly qualities, if they saw him frequently would be pained 
at the sight, and would therefore be likely to conspire against 
him; whereas if they did not see him, they would think him 
quite a different sort of being from themselves, 

100. After completing these arrangements, and firmly settling 
himself upon the throne, Deioces continued to administer justice 
with the same strictness as before. Causes were stated in 

Hellenised as Ayparava or E/c/Sdrapa was Hagmatan, and that it was of 
Arian etymology, having been first used by the Arian Medes. It would 
signify in the language of the country " the place of assemblage." 

1 " This is manifestly a fable of Sabsean origin, the seven colours 
mentioned by Herodotus being precisely those employed by the Orientals 
to denote the seven great heavenly bodies, 01 the seven climates in which 
they revolve. The great temple of Nebuchadnezzar at Borsippa (the 
modern Birs-Nimrud) was a building in seven platforms coloured in a 
similar way. 

a There is reason to believe that this account, though it may be greatly 
exaggerated, is not devoid of a foundation. The temple at Borsippa 
(see the preceding note) appears to have had its fourth and seventh stages 
actually coated with gold and silver respectively. And it seems certain 
that there was often in Oriental towns a most lavish display of the two 
precious metals. 

54 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

writing, and sent in to the king, who passed his judgment upon 
the contents, and transmitted his decisions to the parties con 
cerned: besides which he had spies and eavesdroppers in all 
parts of his dominions, and if he heard of any act of oppression, 
he sent for the guilty party, and awarded him the punishment 
meet for his offence. 

101. Thus Deioces collected the Medes into a nation, and 
ruled over them alone* Now these are the tribes of which they 
consist: the Busae, the Paretaceni, the Struchates, the Arizanti, 
the Budii, and the Magi. 

102. Having reigned three-and-fifty years, Deioces was at his 
death succeeded by his son Phraortes. This prince, not satisfied 
with a dominion which did not extend beyond the single nation 
of the Medes, began by attacking the Persians; and marching 
an army into their country, brought them under the Median 
yoke before any other people. After this success, being now at 
the head of two nations, both of them powerful, he proceeded 
to conquer Asia, overrunning province after province. At last 
he engaged in war with the Assyrians those Assyrians, I mean, 
to whom Nineveh belonged, 1 who were formerly the lords of 
Asia. At present they stood alone by the revolt and desertion 
of their allies, yet still their internal condition was as flourishing 
as ever. Phraortes attacked them, but perished in the expedi 
tion with the greater part of his army, after having reigned over 
the Medes two-and-twenty years. 

103. On the death of Phraortes his son Cyaxares ascended 
the throne. Of him it is reported that he was still more war 
like than any of his ancestors, and that he was the first who 
gave organisation to an Asiatic army, dividing the troops into 
companies, and forming distinct bodies of the spearmen, the 
archers, and the cavalry, who before his time had been mingled 
in one mass, and confused together. He it was who fought 
against the Lydians on the occasion when the day was changed 
suddenly into night, and who brought under his dominion the 
whole of Asia beyond the Halys. 2 This prince, collecting to 
gether all the nations which owned his sway, marched against 
Nineveh, resolved to avenge his father, and cherishing a hope 
that he might succeed in taking the town. A battle was fought, 

1 Herodotus intends here to distinguish the Assyrians of Assyria Proper 
from the Babylonians, whom he calls also Assyrians (i. 178, 188, etc.). 
Against the latter he means to say this expedition was not directed. 

2 Vide supra, chapter 74. 

CHAP. 101-105. Scythians Masters 55 

in which the Assyrians suffered a defeat, and Cyaxares had 
already begun the siege of the place, when a numerous horde of 
Scyths, under their king Madyes, 1 son of Protothyes, burst into 
Asia in pursuit of the Cimmerians whom they had driven out of 
Europe, and entered the Median territory. 

104. The distance from the Palus Maeotis to the river Phasis 
and the Colchians is thirty days journey for a lightly-equipped 
traveller. 2 From Colchis to cross into Media does not take long 
there is only a single intervening nation, the Saspirians, 3 
passing whom you find yourself in Media. This however was 
not the road followed by the Scythians, who turned out of the 
straight course, and took the upper route, which is much longer, 
keeping the Caucasus upon their right. 4 The Scythians, having 
thus invaded Media, were opposed by the Medes, who gave, them 
battle, but, being defeated, lost their empire. The Scythians 
became masters of Asia. 

105. After this they marched forward with the design of 
invading Egypt. When they had reached Palestine, however, 
Psammetichus the Egyptian king met them with gifts and 
prayers, and prevailed on them to advance no further. On 
their return, passing through Ascalon, a city of Syria, 5 the 
greater part of them went their way without doing any damage; 
but some few who lagged behind pillaged the temple of Celestial 
Venus. 6 I have inquired and find that the temple at Ascalon is 
the most ancient of all the temples to this goddess ; for the one 
in Cyprus, as the Cyprians themselves admit, was built in imita- 

1 According to Strabo, Madys, or Madyes, was a Cimmerian prince who 
drove the Treres out of Asia. 

2 From the mouth of the Palus Maeotis, or Sea of Azof, to the river 
Rion, (the ancient Phasis) is a distance of about 270 geographical miles, 
or but little more than the distance (240 gepg. miles) from the gulf of Issus 
to the Euxine, which was called (ch. 72) " a journey of five days for a lightly- 
equipped traveller." We may learn from this that Herodotus did not 
intend the day s journey for a measure of length. 

3 The Saspirians are mentioned again as lying north of Media (ch. no), 
and as separating Media from Colchis (iv. 37). 

4 Herodotus, clearly, conceives the Cimmerians to have coasted the Black 
Sea, and appears to have thought that the Scythians entered Asia by the 
route of Daghestan, along the shores of the Caspian. 

6 Ascalon was one of the most ancient cities of the Philistines (Judges 
i. 18, xiv. 19, etc.). Ascalon is first mentioned in cuneiform inscriptions 
of the time of Sennacherib, having been reduced by him in the famous 
campaign of his third year. 

Herodotus probably intends the Syrian goddess Atergatis or Derceto, 
who was worshipped at Ascalon and elsewhere in Syria, under the form 
of a mermaid, or figure half woman half fish. She may be identified with 
Astarte, and therefore with the Venus of the Greeks. 

I 405 *C 

56 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

tion of it; and that in Cythera was erected by the Phoenicians, 
who belong to this part of Syria. The Scythians who plundered 
the temple were punished by the goddess with the female sick 
ness, which still attaches to their posterity. They themselves 
confess that they are afflicted with the disease for this reason, 
and travellers who visit Scythia can see what sort of a disease 
it is. Those who suffer from it are called Enarees. 

1 06. The dominion of the Scythians over Asia lasted eight- 
and-twenty years, during which time their insolence and oppres 
sion spread ruin on every side. For besides the regular tribute, 
they exacted from the several nations additional imposts, which 
they fixed at pleasure; and further, they scoured the country 
and plundered every one of whatever they could. At length 
Cyaxares and the Medes invited the greater part of them to a 
banquet, and made them drunk with wine, after which they 
were all massacred. The Medes then recovered their empire, 
and had the same extent of dominion as before. They took 
Nineveh I will relate how in another history and conquered 
all Assyria except the district of Babylonia. After this Cyaxares 
died, having reigned over the Medes, if we include the time of 
the Scythian rule, forty years. 

107. Astyages, the son of Cyaxares, succeeded to the throne. 
He had a daughter who was named Mandane", concerning whom 
he had a wonderful dream. He dreamt that from her such a 
stream of water flowed forth as not only to fill his capital, but 
to flood the whole of Asia. This vision he laid before such of 
the Magi as had the gift of interpreting dreams, who expounded 
its meaning to him in full, whereat he was greatly terrified. On 
this account, when his daughter was now of ripe age, he would 
not give her in marriage to any of the Medes who were of 
suitable rank, lest the dream should be accomplished; but he 
married her to a Persian of good family indeed, 1 but of a quiet 

1 Cambyses, the father of Cyrus, appears to have been not only a man 
of good family, but of royal race the hereditary monarch of his nation, 
which, when it became subject to the Medes, still retained its line of 
native kings, the descendants of Achaemenes (Hakhamanish). In the 
Behistun Inscription (col. i, par. 4) Darius carries up his genealogy to 
Achaemenes, and asserts that " eight of his race had been kings before 
himself he was the ninth." Cambyses, the father of Cyrus, Cyrus him 
self, and Cambyses the son of Cyrus, are probably included in the eight. 
An inscription has been found upon a brick at Senkereh in lower Chaldasa, 
in which Cyrus the Great calls himself " the son of Cambyses, the powerful 
king." This then is decisive as to the royalty of the line of Cyrus the Great, 
and is confirmatory of the impression derived from other evidence, thai 
when Darius speaks of eight Achaemenian kings having preceded him, h 

CHAP. 106-109. Legend of Cyrus 57 

temper, whom he looked on as much inferior to a Mede of even 
middle condition. 

1 08. Thus Cambyses (for so was the Persian called) wedded 
Mandan6, x and took her to his home, after which, in the very 
first year, Astyages saw another vision. He fancied that a vine 
grew from the womb of his daughter, and overshadowed the 
whole of Asia. After this dream, which he submitted also to 
the interpreters, he sent to Persia and fetched away Mandane, 
who was now with child, and was not far from her time. On 
her arrival he set a watch over her, intending to destroy the 
child to which she should give birth; for the Magian inter 
preters had expounded the vision to foreshow that the offspring 
of his daughter would reign over Asia in his stead. To guard 
against this, Astyages, as soon as Cyrus was born, sent for Har 
pagus, a man of his own house and the most faithful of the 
Medes, to whom he was wont to entrust all his affairs, and 
addressed him thus " Harpagus, I beseech thee neglect not 
the business with which I am about to charge thee; neither 
betray thou the interests of thy lord for others sake, lest thou 
bring destruction on thine own head at some future time. Take 
the child born of Mandane" my daughter; carry him with thee 
to thy home and slay him there. Then bury him as thou wilt." 
Oh 1 king," replied the other, * never in time past did Har 
pagus disoblige thee in anything, and be sure that through all 
future time he will be careful in nothing to offend. If therefore 
it be thy will that this thing be done, it is for me to serve thee 
with all diligence." 

109. When Harpagus had thus answered, the child was given 
into his hands, clothed in the garb of death, and he hastened 
weeping to his home. There on his arrival he found his wife, 
to whom he told all that Astyages had said. " What then," 
said she, " is it now in thy heart to do? " Not what Astyages 
requires," he answered; "no, he may be madder and more 
frantic still than he is now, but I will not be the man to work 
his will, or lend a helping hand to such a murder as this. Many 
things forbid my slaying him. In the first place the boy is my 
own kith and kin; and next Astyages is old, and has no son. 2 

alludes to the ancestry of Cyrus the Great, and not to his own i 
paternal line. 

[ Whether there was really any connection of blood between Cyrus and 
Astyages, or whether they were no way related to one another, will perhaps 
never be determined. 

Xenophon (Cyrop. I. iv. 20) gives Astyages a son, whom he calls 
Cyaxares. The inscriptions tend to confirm Herodotus. 

58 The History of Herodotus BOOK i, 

If then when he dies the crown should go to his daughter 
that daughter whose child he now wishes to slay by my hand 
what remains for me but danger of the fearfullest kind? 
For my own safety, indeed, the child must die; but some one 
belonging to Astyages must take his life, not I or mine." 

no. So saying he sent off a messenger to fetch a certain 
Mitradates, 1 one of the herdsmen of Astyages, whose pasturages 
he knew to be the fittest for his purpose, lying as they did 
among mountains infested with wild beasts. This man was 
married to one of the king s female slaves, whose Median name 
was Spaco, which is in Greek Cyno, since in the Median tongue 
the word " Spaca means a bitch. The mountains, on the 
skirts of which his cattle grazed, lie to the north of Agbatana, 
towards the Euxine. That part of Media which borders on the 
Saspirians is an elevated tract, very mountainous, and covered 
with forests, while the rest of the Median territory is entirely 
level ground. On the arrival of the herdsman, who came at 
the hasty summons, Harpagus said to him " Astyages requires 
thee to take this child and lay him in the wildest part of the 
hills, where he will be sure to die speedily. And he bade me 
tell thee, that if thou dost not kill the boy, but anyhow allowest 
him to escape, he will put thee to the most painful of deaths. 
I myself am appointed to see the child exposed. " 

in. The herdsman on hearing this took the child in his 
arms, and went back the way he had come till he reached the 
folds. There, providentially, his wife, who had been expecting 
daily to be put to bed, had just, during the absence of her hus 
band, been delivered of a child. Both the herdsman and his 
wife were uneasy on each other s account, the former fearful 
because his wife was so near her time, the woman alarmed 
because it was a new thing for her husband to be sent for by 
Harpagus. When therefore he came into the house upon his 
return, his wife, seeing him arrive so unexpectedly, was the first 
to speak, and begged to know why Harpagus had sent for him 
in such a hurry. " Wife," said he, " when I got to the town I 
saw and heard such things as I would to heaven I had never 
seen such things as I would to heaven had never happened to 

1 Ctesias seems to have called this person Atradates. Atradates may 
fairly be considered to be a mere Median synonym for the Persian Mitra- 
dates the name signifying " given to the sun," and Atra or Adar (whence 
Atropaten6) being equivalent in Median, as a title of that luminary (or 
of fire, which was the usual emblem of his worship) to the Persian Milra 
or Mihr . 

CHAP. 110-113. Cyrus Saved 59 

our masters. Every one was weeping in Harpagus s house. It 
quite frightened me, but I went in. The moment I stepped 
inside, what should I see but a baby lying on the floor, panting 
and whimpering, and all covered with gold, and wrapped in 
clothes of such beautiful colours. Harpagus saw me, and 
directly ordered me to take the child in my arms and carry 
him off, and what was I to do with him, think you? Why, to 
lay him in the mountains, where the wild beasts are most 
plentiful. And he told me it was the king himself that ordered 
it to be done, and he threatened me with such dreadful things 
if I failed. So I took the child up in my arms, and carried him 
along. I thought it might be the son of one of the household 
slaves. I did wonder certainly to see the gold and the beautiful 
baby-clothes, and I could not think why there was such a 
weeping in Harpagus s house. Well, very soon, as I came along, 
I got at the truth. They sent a servant with me to show me 
the way out of the town, and to leave the baby in my hands; 
and he told me that the child s mother is the king s daughter 
Mandane", and his father Cambyses, the son of Cyrus; and that 
the king orders him to be killed; and look, here the child is." 

112. With this the herdsman uncovered the infant, and 
showed him to his wife, who, when she saw him, and observed 
how fine a child and how beautiful he was, burst into tears, and 
clinging to the knees of her husband, besought him on no 
account to expose the babe; to which he answered, that it was 
not possible for him to do otherwise, as Harpagus would be sure 
to send persons to see and report to him, and he was to suffer 
a most cruel death if he disobeyed. Failing thus in her first 
attempt to persuade her husband, the woman spoke a second 
time, saying, If then there is no persuading thee, and a child 
must needs be seen exposed upon the mountains, at least do 
thus. The child of which I have just been delivered is still 
born; take it and lay it on the hills, and let us bring up as our 
own the child of the daughter of As ty ages. So shalt thou not 
be charged with unfaithfulness to thy lord, nor shall we have 
managed badly for ourselves. Our dead babe will have a royal 
funeral, and this living child will not be deprived of life. 1 

113. It seemed to the herdsman that this advice was the best 
under the circumstances. He therefore followed it without loss 
of time. The child which he had intended to put to death he 
gave over to his wife, and his own dead child he put in the 
cradle wherein he had carried the other, clothing it first in all 

60 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

the other s costly attire, and taking it in his arms he laid it in 
the wildest place of all the mountain-range. When the child 
had been three days exposed, leaving one of his helpers to 
watch the body, he started off for the city, and going straight 
to Harpagus s house, declared himself ready to show the corpse 
of the boy. Harpagus sent certain of his body-guard, on whom 
he had the firmest reliance, to view the body for him, and, 
satisfied with their seeing it, gave orders for the funeral. Thus 
was the herdsman s child buried, and the other child, who was 
afterwards known by the name of Cyrus, was taken by the 
herdsman s wife, and brought up under a different name. 

114. When the boy was in his tenth year, an accident which 
I will now relate, caused it to be discovered who he was. He 
was at play one day in the village where the folds of the cattle 
were, along with the boys of his own age, in the street. The 
other boys who were playing with him chose the cowherd s son, 
as he was called, to be their king. He then proceeded to order 
them about some he set to build him houses, others he made 
his guards, one of them was to be the king s eye, another had 
the office of carrying his messages, all had some task or other. 
Among the boys there was one, the son of Artembares, a Mede 
of distinction, who refused to do what Cyrus had set him. 
Cyrus told the other boys to take him into custody, and when 
his orders were obeyed, he chastised him most severely with the 
whip. The son of Artembares, as soon as he was let go, full of 
rage at treatment so little befitting his rank, hastened to the 
city and complained bitterly to his father of what had been 
done to him by Cyrus. He did not, of course, say " Cyrus," by 
which name the boy was not yet known, but called him the son 
of the king s cowherd. Artembares, in the heat of his passion, 
went to Astyages, accompanied by his son, and made complaint 
of the gross injury which had been done him. Pointing to the 
boy s shoulders, he exclaimed, " Thus, oh ! king, has thy slave, 
the son of a cowherd, heaped insult upon us." 

115. At this sight and these words Astyages, wishing to 
avenge the son of Artembares for his father s sake, sent for the 
cowherd and his boy. When they came together into his pre 
sence, fixing his eyes on Cyrus, Astyages said, Hast thou 
then, the son of so mean a fellow as that, dared to behave thus 
rudely to the son of yonder noble, one of the first in my court?" 
" My lord," replied the boy, " I only treated him as he deserved, 
I was chosen king in play by the boys of our village, because 

CHAP. 114-117. Astyages Suspicion 6 1 

they thought me the best for it. He himself was one of the 
boys who chose me. All the others did according to my orders; 
but he refused, and made light of them, until at last he got his 
due reward. If for this I deserve to suffer punishment, here I 
am ready to submit to it." 

116. While the boy was yet speaking Astyages was struck 
with a suspicion who he was. He thought he saw something in 
the character of his face like his own, and there was a noble 
ness about the answer he had made; besides which his age 
seemed to tally with the time when his grandchild was exposed. 
Astonished at all this, Astyages could not speak for a while. 
At last, recovering himself with difficulty, and wishing to be 
quit of Artembares, that he might examine the herdsman alone, 
he said to the former, " I promise thee, Artembares, so to settle 
this business that neither thou nor thy son shall have any cause 
to complain." Artembares retired from his presence, and the 
attendants, at the bidding of the king, led Cyrus into an inner 
apartment. Astyages then being left alone with the herdsman, 
inquired of him where he had got the boy, and who had given 
him to him ; to which he made answer that the lad was his own 
child, begotten by himself, and that the mother who bore him 
was still alive, and lived with him in his house. Astyages 
remarked that he was very ill-advised to bring himself into such 
great trouble, and at the same time signed to his body-guard to 
lay hold of him. Then the herdsman, as they were dragging 
him to the rack, began at the beginning, and told the whole 
story exactly as it happened, without concealing anything, 
ending with entreaties and prayers to the king to grant him 

117. Astyages, having got the truth of the matter from the 
herdsman, was very little further concerned about him, but 
with Harpagus he was exceedingly enraged. The guards were 
bidden to summon him into the presence, and on his appear 
ance Astyages asked him, " By what death was it, Harpagus, 
that thou slewest the child of my daughter whom I gave into 
thy hands? Harpagus, seeing the cowherd in the room, did 
not betake himself to lies, lest he should be confuted and proved 
false, but replied as follows: " Sire, when thou gavest the child 
into my hands I instantly considered with myself how I could 
contrive to execute thy wishes, and yet, while guiltless of any 
unfaithfulness towards thee, avoid imbruing my hands in blood 
which was in truth thy daughter s and thine own. And this 

62 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

was how I contrived it. I sent for this cowherd, and gave the 
child over to him, telling him that by the king s orders it was 
to be put to death. And in this I told no lie, for thou hadst 
so commanded. Moreover, when I gave him the child, I en 
joined him to lay it somewhere in the wilds of the mountains, 
and to stay near and watch till it was dead; and I threatened 
him with all manner of punishment if he failed. Afterwards, 
when he had done according to all that I commanded him, and 
the child had died, I sent some of the most trustworthy of my 
eunuchs, who viewed the body for me, and then I had the 
child buried. This, sire, is the simple truth, and this is the 
death bv which the child died." 


1 1 8. Thus Harpagus related the whole story in a plain, 
straightforward way; upon which Astyages, letting no sign 
escape him of the anger that he felt, began by repeating to him 
all that he had just heard from the cowherd, and then concluded 
with saying, " So the boy is alive, and it is best as it is. For 
the child s fate was a great sorrow to me, and the reproaches of 
my daughter went to my heart. Truly fortune has played us a 
good turn in this. Go thou home then, and send thy son to be 
with the new comer, and to-night, as I mean to sacrifice thank- 
offerings for the child s safety to the gods to whom such honour 
is due, I look to have thee a guest at the banquet." 

119. Harpagus, on hearing this, made obeisance, and went 
home rejoicing to find that his disobedience had turned out so 
fortunately, and that, instead of being punished, he was invited 
to a banquet given in honour of the happy occasion. The 
moment he reached home he called for his son, a youth of about 
thirteen, the only child of his parents, and bade him go to the 
palace, and do whatever Astyages should direct. Then, in the 
gladness of his heart, he went to his wife and told her all that 
had happened. Astyages, meanwhile, took the son of Har 
pagus, and slew him, after which he cut him in pieces, and 
roasted some portions before the fire, and boiled others; and 
when all were duly prepared, he kept them ready for use. The 
hour for the banquet came, and Harpagus appeared, and with 
him the other guests, and all sat down to the feast. Astyages 
and the rest of the guests had joints of meat served up to them ; 
but on the table of Harpagus, nothing was placed except the 
flesh of his own son. This was all put before him, except the 
hands and feet and head, which were laid by themselves in a 
covered basket, When Harpagus seemed to have eaten his fill, 

CHAP. 118-120. Astyages and the Magi 63 

Astyages called out to him to know how he had enjoyed the 
repast. On his reply that he had enjoyed it excessively, they 
whose business it was brought him the basket, in which were 
the hands and feet and head of his son, and bade him open it, 
and take out what he pleased. Harpagus accordingly un 
covered the basket, and saw within it the remains of his son. 
The sight, however, did not scare him, or rob him of his self- 
possession. Being asked by Astyages if he knew what beast s 
flesh it was that he had been eating, he answered that he knew 
very well, and that whatever the king did was agreeable. After 
this reply, he took with him such morsels of the flesh as were 
uneaten, and went home, intending, as I conceive, to collect 
the remains and bury them* 

120. Such was the mode in which Astyages punished Har 
pagus: afterwards, proceeding to consider what he should do 
with Cyrus, his grandchild, he sent for the Magi, who formerly 
interpreted his dream in the way which alarmed him so much, 
and asked them how they had expounded it. They answered, 
without varying from what they had said before, that " the boy 
must needs be a king if he grew up, and did not die too soon." 
Then Astyages addressed them thus: "The boy has escaped, 
and lives ; he has been brought up in the country, and the lads 
of the village where he lives have made him their king. All 
that kings commonly do he has done. He has had his guards, 
and his doorkeepers, and his messengers, and all the other usual 
officers. Tell me, then, to what, think you, does all this tend ? 
The Magi answered, " If the boy survives, and has ruled as a 
king without any craft or contrivance, in that case we bid thee 
cheer up, and feel no more alarm on his account. He will not 
reign a second time. For we have found even oracles sometimes 
fulfilled in an unimportant way ; and dreams, still of tener, have 
wondrously mean accomplishments." " It is what I myself 
most incline to think," Astyages rejoined; " the boy having 
been already king, the dream is out, and I have nothing more to 
fear from him. Nevertheless, take good heed and counsel me 
the best you can for the safety of my house and your own 
interests." " Truly," said the Magi in reply, " it very much 
concerns our interests that thy kingdom be firmly established; 
for if it went to this boy it would pass into foreign hands, since 
he is a Persian: and then we Medes should lose our freedom, 
and be quite despised by the Persians, as being foreigners. But 
so long as thou, our fellow-countryman, art on the throne, all 

64 The History of Herodotus BOOK i 

manner of honours are ours, and we are even not without 
some share in the government. Much reason therefore have we 
to forecast well for thee and for thy sovereignty. If then we 
saw any cause for present fear, be sure we would not keep it 
back from thee. But truly we are persuaded that the dream has 
had its accomplishment in this harmless way; and so our own 
fears being at rest, we recommend thee to banish thine. As 
for the boy, our advice is, that thou send him away to Persia, 
to his father and mother." 

121. Astyages heard their answer with pleasure, and calling 
Cyrus into his presence, said to him, " My child, I was led to do 
thee a wrong by a dream which has come to nothing : from that 
wrong thou wert saved by thy own good fortune. Go now with 
a light heart to Persia; I will provide thy escort. Go, and 
when thou gettest to thy journey s end, thou wilt behold thy 
father and thy mother, quite other people from Mitradates the 
cowherd and his wife." 

122. With these words Astyages dismissed his grandchild. 
On his arrival at the house of Cambyses, he was received by his 
parents, who, when they learnt who he was, embraced him 
heartily, having always been convinced that he died almost 
as soon as he was born. So they asked him by what means he 
had chanced to escape; and he told them how that till lately he 
had known nothing at all about the matter, but had been mis 
taken oh ! so widely ! and how that he had learnt his history 
by the way, as he came from Media. He had been quite sure 
that he was the son of the king s cowherd, but on the road the 
king s escort had told him all the truth; and then he spoke of 
the cowherd s wife who had brought him up, and filled his whole 
talk with her praises; in all that he had to tell them about 
himself, it was always Cyno Cyno was everything. So it 
happened that his parents, catching the name at his mouth, and 
wishing to persuade the Persians that there was a special provi 
dence in his preservation, spread the report that Cyrus, when he 
was exposed, was suckled by a bitch. This was the sole origin 
of the rumour. 

123. Afterwards, when Cyrus grew to manhood, and became 
known as the bravest and most popular of all his compeers, 
Harpagus, who was bent on revenging himself upon Astyages, 
began to pay him court by gifts and messages. His own rank 
was too humble for him to hope to obtain vengeance without 
some foreign help. When therefore he saw Cyrus, whose 

CHAP. 121-125. Revenge of Harpagus 65 

wrongs were so similar to his own, growing up expressly (as it 
were) to be the avenger whom he needed, he set to work to 
procure his support and aid in the matter. He had already 
paved the way for his designs, by persuading, severally, the 
great Median nobles, whom the harsh rule of their monarch had 
offended, that the best plan would be to put Cyrus at their 
head, and dethrone Astyages. These preparations made, Har 
pagus being now ready for revolt, was anxious to make known 
his wishes to Cyrus, who still lived in Persia; but as the roads 
between Media and Persia were guarded, he had to contrive a 
means of sending word secretly, which he did in the following 
way. He took a hare, and cutting open its belly without 
hurting the fur, he slipped in a letter containing what he wanted 
to say, and then carefully sewing up the paunch, he gave the 
hare to one of his most faithful slaves, disguising him as a 
hunter with nets, and sent him off to Persia to take the game 
as a present to Cyrus, bidding him tell Cyrus, by word of mouth, 
to paunch the animal himself, and let no one be present at the 

124. All was done as he wished, and Cyrus, on cutting the 
hare open, found the letter inside, and read as follows: " Son 
of Cambyses, the gods assuredly watch over thee, or never 
wouldst thou have passed through thy many wonderful adven 
tures now is the time when thou mayst avenge thyself upon 
Astyages, thy murderer. He willed thy death, remember; to 
the gods and to me thou owest that thou art still alive. I think 
thou art not ignorant of what he did to thee, nor of what I 
suffered at his hands because I committed thee to the cowherd, 
and did not put thee to death. Listen now to me, and obey my 
words, and all the empire of Astyages shall be thine. Raise the 
standard of revolt in Persia, and then march straight on Media. 
Whether Astyages appoint me to command his forces against 
thee, or whether he appoint any other of the princes of the 
Medes, all will go as thou couldst wish. They will be the first 
to fall away from him, and joining thy side, exert themselves to 
overturn his power. Be sure that on our part all is ready; 
wherefore do thou thy part, and that speedily." 

125. Cyrus, on receiving the tidings contained in this letter, 
set himself to consider how he might best persuade the Persians 
to revolt. After much thought, he hit on the following as the 
most expedient course: he wrote what he thought proper upon 
a roll, and then calling an assembly of the Persians, he unfolded 

66 The History of Herodotus BOOK L 

the roll, and read out of it that Astyages appointed him their 
general. " And now/ said he, " since it is so, I command you 
to go and bring each man his reaping-hook." With these words 
he dismissed the assembly. 

Now the Persian nation is made up of many tribes. 1 Those 
which Cyrus assembled and persuaded to revolt from the Medes, 
were the principal ones on which all the others are dependent. 2 
These are the Pasargadae, 3 the Maraphians, and the Maspians, of 
whom the Pasargadae are the noblest. The Achaemenidae, 4 from 
which spring all the Perseid kings, is one of their clans. The 
rest of the Persian tribes are the following: the Panthialaeans, 
the Derusiaeans, the Germanians, who are engaged in husbandry ; 
the Daans, the Mardians, the Dropicans, and the Sagartians, 
who are Nomads. 6 

126. When, in obedience to the orders which they had 
received, the Persians came with their reaping-hooks, Cyrus led 
them to a tract of ground, about eighteen or twenty forlongs 
each way, covered with thorns, and ordered them to clear it 
before the day was out. They accomplished their task; upon 
which he issued a second order to them, to take the bath the 
day following, and again come to him. Meanwhile he collected 
together all his father s flocks, both sheep and goats, and all his 
oxen, and slaughtered them, and made ready to give an enter 
tainment to the entire Persian army. Wine, too, and bread of 
the choicest kinds were prepared for the occasion. When the 
morrow came, and the Persians appeared, he bade them recline 

1 According to Xenophon the number of the Persian tribes was twelve 
(Cyrop. i. ii. 5), according to Herodotus, ten. 

a The distinction of superior and inferior tribes is common among 
nomadic and semi- nomadic nations. 

3 Pasargadae was not only the name of the principal Persian tribe, but 
also of the ancient capital of the country (Strab. xv. p. 1035). It seems 
tolerably certain that the modern Murg-aub is the site of the ancient 
Pasargadas. Its position with respect to Persepolis, its strong situation 
among the mountains, its remains bearing the marks of high antiquity, 
and, above all, the name and tomb of Cyrus, which have been discovered 
among the ruins, mark it for the capital of that monarch beyond all 
reasonable doubt. 

4 The Achaemenidae were the royal family of Persia, the descendants of 
Achaemenes (Hakhamanish), who was probably the leader under whom the 
Persians first settled in the country which has ever since borne their name. 
This Achaemenes is mentioned by Herodotus as the founder of the kingdom 
(iii. 75; vii. n). Achaemenes continued to be used as a family name in 
after times. It was borne by one of the sons of Darius Hystaspes (infra, 
vii. 7). 

8 Nomadic hordes must always be an important element in the population 
of Persia. Large portions of the country arc only habitable at certain 
seasons of the year. 

CHAP. 126-129. Revolt of the Persians 67 

upon the grass, and enjoy themselves. After the feast was 
over, he requested them to tell him which they liked best, 
to-day s work, or yesterday s? They answered that the 
contrast was indeed strong: yesterday brought them nothing 
but what was bad, to-day everything that was good." Cyrus 
instantly seized on their reply, and laid bare his purpose in 
these words: " Ye men of Persia, thus do matters stand with 
you. If you choose to hearken to my words, you may enjoy 
these and ten thousand similar delights, and never condescend 
to any slavish toil; but if you will not hearken, prepare your 
selves for unnumbered toils as hard as yesterday s. Now there 
fore follow my bidding, and be free. For myself I feel that I am 
destined by Providence to undertake your liberation; and you, 
I am sure, are no whit inferior to the Medes in anything, least 
of all in bravery. Revolt, therefore, from Astyages, without a 
moment s delay." 

127. The Persians, who had long been impatient of the Median 
dominion, now that they had found a leader, were delighted to 
shake off the yoke. Meanwhile Astyages, informed of the doings 
of Cyrus, sent a messenger to summon him to his presence. 
Cyrus replied, " Tell Astyages that I shall appear in his presence 
sooner than he will like." Astyages, when he received this 
message., instantly armed all his subjects, and, as if God had 
deprived him of his senses, appointed Harpagus to be their 
general, forgetting how greatly he had injured him. So when 
the two armies met and engaged, only a few of the Medes, who 
were not in the secret, fought; others deserted openly to the 
Persians; while the greater number counterfeited fear, and fled. 

128. Astyages, on learning the shameful flight and dispersion 
of his army, broke out into threats against Cyrus, saying, 
" Cyrus shall nevertheless have no reason to rejoice; and 
directly he seized the Magian interpreters, who had persuaded 
him to allow Cyrus to escape, and impaled them; after which, 
he armed all the Medes who had remained in the city, both young 
and old ; and leading them against the Persians, fought a battle, 
in which he was utterly defeated, his army being destroyed, and 
he himself falling into the enemy s hands* 

129. Harpagus then, seeing him a prisoner, came near, and 
exulted over him with many jibes and jeers. Among other 
cutting speeches which he made, he alluded to the supper where 
the flesh of his son was given him to eat, and asked Astyages to 
answer him now, how he enjoyed being a slave instead of a 

68 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

king? Astyages looked in his face, and asked him in return, 
why he claimed as his own the achievements of Cyrus? " Be 
cause," said Harpagus, it was my letter which made him 
revolt, and so I am entitled to all the credit of the enterprise." 
Then Astyages declared, that in that case he was at once the 
silliest and the most unjust of men: the silliest, if when it was 
in his power to put the crown on his own head, as it must 
assuredly have been, if the revolt was entirely his doing, he had 
placed it on the head of another; the most unjust, if on account 
of that supper he had brought slavery on the Medes. For, 
supposing that he was obliged to invest another with the kingly 
power, and not retain it himself, yet justice required that a 
Mede, rather than a Persian, should receive the dignity. Now, 
however, the Medes, who had been no parties to the wrong of 
which he complained, were made slaves instead of lords, and 
slaves moreover of those who till recently had been their 

130. Thus after a reign of thirty-five years, Astyages lost his 
crown, and the Medes, in consequence of his cruelty, were 
brought under the rule of the Persians. Their empire over the 
parts of Asia beyond the Halys had lasted one hundred and 
twenty-eight years, except during the time when the Scythians 
had the dominion. 1 Afterwards the Medes repented of their 
submission, and revolted from Darius, but were defeated in 
battle, and again reduced to subjection. 2 Now, however, in the 
time of Astyages, it was the Persians who under Cyrus revolted 
from the Medes, and became thenceforth the rulers of Asia. 
Cyrus kept Astyages at his court during the remainder of his 
life, without doing him any further injury. Such then were 
the circumstances of the birth and bringing up of Cyrus, and 
such were the steps by which he mounted the throne. It was 
at a later date that he was attacked by Croesus, and overthrew 
him, as I have related in an earlier portion of this history. The 
overthrow of Croesus made him master of the whole of Asia. 

131. The customs which I know the Persians to observe are 
the following. They have no images of the gods, no temples 
nor altars, and consider the use of them a sign of folly. This 
comes, I think, from their not believing the gods to have the 

1 i.e. they ruled (128 28=) 100 years. This would make their rule 
begin in the twenty-third year of Deloces. 

* In the great inscription of Darius at Behistun a long and elaborate 
account is given of a Median revolt which occurred in the third year 
of the reign of Darius, and was put down with difficulty. 

CHAP. 130-132. Customs of the Persians 69 

same nature with men, as the Greeks imagine. Their wont, 
however, is to ascend the summits of the loftiest mountains^ 
and there to offer sacrifice to Jupiter, which is the name they 
give to the whole circuit of the firmament. They likewise offer 
to the sun and moon, to the earth, to fire, to water, and to the 
winds. These are the only gods whose worship has come down 
to them from ancient times. At a later period they began the 
worship of Urania, which they borrowed 1 from the Arabians 
and Assyrians. Mylitta is the name by which the Assyrians 
know this goddess, whom the Arabians call Alitta, and the 
Persians Mitra. 2 

132. To these gods the Persians offer sacrifice in the following 
manner: they raise no altar, light no fire, pour no libations; 
there is no sound of the flute, no putting on of chaplets, no 
consecrated barley-cake; but the man who wishes to sacrifice 
brings his victim to a spot of ground which is pure from pollu 
tion, and there calls upon the name of the god to whom he 
intends to offer. It is usual to have the turban encircled with 
a wreath, most commonly of myrtle. The sacrificer is not 
allowed to pray for blessings on himself alone, but he prays for 
the welfare of the king, and of the whole Persian people, among 
whom he is of necessity included. He cuts the victim in pieces, 
and having boiled the flesh, he lays it out upon the tenderest 
herbage that he can find, trefoil especially. When all is ready, 
one of the Magi comes forward and chants a hymn, which they 
say recounts the origin of the gods. It is not lawful to offer 
sacrifice unless there is a Magus present. After waiting a short 

1 The readiness of the Persians to adopt foreign customs, even in religion, 
is very remarkable. Perhaps the most striking instance is the adoption 
from the Assyrians of the well-known emblem consisting of a winged 
circle with or without a human figure rising from the circular space. This 
emblem is of Assyrian origin, appearing in the earliest sculptures of that 
country (Layard s Nineveh, vol. i. chap. v.). Its exact meaning is uncertain, 
but the conjecture is probable, that while in the human head we have the 
symbol of intelligence, the wings signify omnipresence, and the circle 
eternity. Thus the Persians were able, without the sacrifice of any 
principle, to admit it as a religious emblem, which we find them to have 
done, as early as the times of Darius, universally (see the sculptures at 
Persepolis, Nakhsh-i-Rustam, Behistun, etc.). 

3 This identification is altogether a mistake. The Persians, like their 
Vedic brethren, worshipped the sun under the name of Mithra. This 
was a portion of the religion which they brought with them from the Indus, 
and was not adopted from any foreign nation. The name of Mithra does 
not indeed occur in the Achaemenian inscriptions until the time of Artax- 
erxes Mnemon, but there is no reason to question the antiquity of his 
worship in Persia. Xenophon is right in making it a part of the religion 
of Cyrus (Cyrop. vm. iii. 12, and vii. 3). 

jo The History of Herodotus BOOK i 

time the sacrificer carries the flesh of the victim away with him ; 
and makes whatever use of it he may please. 1 

133. Of all the days in the year, the one which they celebrate 
most is their birthday. It is customary to have the board 
furnished on that day with an ampler supply than common* 
The richer Persians cause an ox, a horse, a camel, and an ass 
to be baked whole 2 and so served up to them : the poorer 
classes use instead the smaller kinds of cattle. They eat little 
solid food but abundance of dessert, which is set on table a few 
dishes at a time; this it is which makes them say that " the 
Greeks, when they eat, leave off hungry, having nothing worth 
mention served up to them after the meats; whereas, if they 
had more put before them, they would not stop eating." They 
are very fond of wine, and drink it in large quantities. 8 To 
vomit or obey natural calls in the presence of another, is for 
bidden among them. Such are their customs in these matters. 

It is also their general practice to deliberate upon affairs of 
weight .when they are drunk; and then on the morrow, when 
they are sober, the decision to which they came the night before 
is put before them by the master of the house in which it was 
made; and if it is then approved of, they act on it; if not, 
they set it aside. Sometimes, however, they are sober at their 
first deliberation, but in this case they always reconsider the 
matter under the influence of wine. 4 

134. When they meet each other in the streets, you may 
know if the persons meeting are of equal rank by the following 
token; if they are, instead of speaking, they kiss each other on 
the lips. In the case where one is a little inferior to the other, 
the kiss is given on the cheek; where the difference of rank is 
great, the inferior prostrates himself upon the ground. 5 Of 

1 At the secret meetings of the All Allahis of Persia, which in popular 
belief have attained an infamous notoriety, but which are in reality alto 
gether innocent, are practised many ceremonies that bear a striking 
resemblance to the old Magian sacrifice. 

2 It is a common custom in the East at the present day, to roast sheep 
whole, even for an ordinary repast ; and on fete days it is done in Dalmatia 
and in other parts of Europe. 

8 At the present day, among the " bons vivants " of Persia, it is usual 
to sit for hours before dinner drinking wine, and eating dried fruits, such 
as filberts, almonds, pistachio-nuts, melon seeds, etc. A party, indeed, 
often sits down at seven o clock, and the dinner is not brought in till eleven. 

4 Tacitus asserts that the Germans were in the habit of deliberating on 
peace and war under the influence of wine, reserving their determination 
for the morrow. 

5 The Persians are still notorious for their rigid attention to ceremonial 
and etiquette. 

CHAP. 133-136. Customs of the Persians 7 1 

nations, they honour most their nearest neighbours, whom they 
esteem next to themselves; those who live beyond these they 
honour in the second degree; and so with the remainder, the 
further they are removed, the less the esteem in which they 
hold them. The reason is, that they look upon themselves as 
very greatly superior in all respects to the rest of mankind, 
regarding others as approaching to excellence in proportion as 
they dwell nearer to them; whence it comes to pass that those 
who are the farthest off must be the most degraded of mankind. 1 
Under the dominion of the Medes, the several nations of the 
empire exercised authority over each other in this order. The 
Medes were lords over all, and governed the nations upon their 
borders, who in their turn governed the States beyond, who 
likewise bore rule over the nations which adjoined on them. 2 
And this is the order which the Persians also follow in their 
distribution of honour; for that people, like the Medes, has a 
progressive scale of administration and government. 

135. There is no nation which so readily adopts foreign 
customs as the Persians. Thus, they have taken the dress of 
the Medes, 3 considering it superior to their own; and in war 
they wear the Egyptian breastplate. As soon as they hear of 
any luxury, they instantly make it their own: and hence, among 
other novelties, they have learnt unnatural lust from the Greeks. 
Each of them has several wives, and a still larger number of 

136. Next to prowess in arms, it is regarded as the greatest 
proof of manly excellence, to be the father of many sons. 

1 In an early stage of geographical knowledge each nation regards itself 
as occupying the centre of the earth. Herodotus tacitly assumes that 
Greece is the centre by his theory of ^xarku or " extremities " (iii. 115). 
Such was the view commonly entertained among the Greeks, and Delphi, 
as the centre of Greece, was called " the navel of the world. * 

a It is quite inconceivable that there should have been any such system 
of government either in Media or Persia, as Herodotus here indicates. 
With respect to Persia, we know that the most distant satrapies were held 
as directly of the crown as the nearest. The utmost that can be said with 
truth is, that in the Persian and Median, as in the Roman empire, there 
were three grades; first, the ruling nation; secondly, the conquered pro 
vinces; thirdly, the nations on the frontier, governed by their own laws 
and princes, but owning the supremacy of the imperial power, and reckoned 
among its tributaries. This was the position in which the Ethiopians, 
Colchians, and Arabians, stood to Persia (Herod, iii. 97). 

8 It appears from ch. 71 that the old national dress of the Persians was a 
close-fitting tunic and trousers of leather. The Median costume, according 
to Xenophon (Cyrop. vm. i. 40) was of a nature to conceal the form, 
and give it an appearance of grandeur and elegance. It would seem 
therefore to have been a flowing robe. 

72 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

Every year the king sends rich gifts to the man who can show 
the largest number: for they hold that number is strength. 
Their sons are carefully instructed from their fifth to their 
twentieth year, in three things alone, to ride, to draw the 
bow, and to speak the truth. 1 Until their fifth year they are 
not allowed to come into the sight of their father, but pass 
their lives with the women. This is done that, if the child die 
young, the father may not be afflicted by its loss. 

137. To my mind it is a wise rule, as also is the following 
that the king shall not put any one to death for a single fault, 
and that none of the Persians shall visit a single fault in a slave 
with any extreme penalty; but in every case the services of 
the offender shall be set against his misdoings; and, if the 
latter be found to outweigh the former, the aggrieved party 
shall then proceed to punishment. 2 

138. The Persians maintain that never yet did any one kill 
his own father or mother; but in all such cases they are quite 
sure that, if matters were sifted to the bottom, it would be 
found that the child was either a changeling or else the fruit of 
adultery; for it is not likely they say that the real father 
should perish by the hands of his child. 

139. They hold it unlawful to talk of anything which it is 
unlawful to do. The most disgraceful thing in the world, they 
think, is to tell a lie; the next worst, to owe a debt: because, 
among other reasons, the debtor is obliged to tell lies. If a 
Persian has the leprosy 3 he is not allowed to enter into a city, 
or to have any dealings with the other Persians; he must, they 
say, have sinned against the sun. Foreigners attacked by this 
disorder, are forced to leave the country: even white pigeons 
are often driven away, as guilty of the same offence. They 
never defile a river with the secretions of their bodies, nor even 
wash their hands in one; nor will they allow others to do so, 
as they have a great reverence for rivers. There is another 
peculiarity, which the Persians themselves have never noticed, 
but which has not escaped my observation. Their names, 

1 The Persian regard for truth has been questioned by Larcher on the 
strength of the speech of Darius in Book iii. (chap. 72). This speech, 
however, is entirely unhistoric. The special estimation in which truth 
was held among the Persians is evidenced in a remarkable manner by 
the inscriptions of Darius, where lying is taken as the representative of 
all evil. 

! Vide infra, vii. 194. 

* With the Persian isolation of the leper, compare the Jewish practice 
(Lev. xiii. 46. 2 Kings vii. 3; xv. 5. Luke xvii. 12). 

CHAP. 137-141. The Magi 73 

which are expressive of some bodily or mental excellence, all 
end with the same letter the letter which is called San by the 
Dorians, and Sigma by the lonians. Any one who examines 
will find that the Persian names, one and all without exception, 
end with this letter. 1 

140. Thus much I can declare of the Persians with entire 
certainty, from my own actual knowledge. There is another 
custom which is spoken of with reserve, and not openly, con 
cerning their dead. It is said that the body of a male Persian 
is never buried, until it has been torn either by a dog or a bird 
of prey. 2 That the Magi have this custom is beyond a doubt, 
for they practise it without any concealment. The dead bodies 
are covered with wax, and then buried in the ground. 

The Magi are a very peculiar race, different entirely from 
the Egyptian priests, and indeed from all other men whatsoever. 
The Egyptian priests make it a point of religion not to kill any 
live animals except those which they offer in sacrifice. The 
Magi, on the contrary, kill animals of all kinds with their own 
hands, excepting dogs 3 and men. They even seem to take a 
delight in the employment, and kill, as readily as they do other 
animals, ants and snakes, and such like flying or creeping 
things. However, since this has always been their custom, let 
them keep to it. I return to my former narrative. 

141. Immediately after the conquest of Lydia by the Per 
sians, the Ionian and ^Eolian Greeks sent ambassadors to Cyrus 
at Sardis, and prayed to become his lieges on the footing which 
they had occupied under Croesus. Cyrus listened attentively 
to their proposals, and answered them by a fable. " There was 
a certain piper," he said, " who was walking one day by the 
seaside, when he espied some fish; so he began to pipe to them, 
imagining they would come out to him upon the land. But as 
he found at last that his hope was vain, he took a net, and en 
closing a great draught of fishes, drew them ashore. The fish 

1 Here Herodotus was again mistaken. The Persian names of men 
which terminate with a consonant end indeed invariably with the letter s, 
or rather sh, as Kurush (Cyrus), Ddryavush (Darius). But a large number 
of Persian names of men were pronounced with a vowel termination, not 
expressed in writing, and in these the last consonant might be almost 
any letter. 

8 Agathias and Strabo also mention this strange custom, which still 
prevails among the Parsees wherever they are found, whether in Persia 
or in India. 

8 The dog is represented in the Zendavesta as the special animal of 
Ormazd, and is still regarded with peculiar reverence by the Parsees. 

74 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

then began to leap and dance; but the piper said, Cease your 
dancing now, as you did not choose to come and dance when I 
piped to you. Cyrus gave this answer to the lonians and 
^Eolians, because, when he urged them by his messengers to 
revolt from Croesus, they refused ; but now, when his work was 
done, they came to offer their allegiance. It was in anger, 
therefore, that he made them this reply. The lonians, on hear 
ing it, set to work to fortify their towns, and held meetings 
at the Panionium, which were attended by all excepting the 
Milesians, with whom Cyrus had concluded a separate treaty, 
by which he allowed them the terms they had formerly obtained 
from Croesus. The other lonians resolved, with one accord, to 
send ambassadors to Sparta to implore assistance. 

142. Now the lonians of Asia, who meet at the Panionium, 
have built their cities in a region where the air and climate are 
the most beautiful in the whole world: for no other region is 
equally blessed with Ionia, neither above it nor below it, nor 
east nor west of it. For in other countries either the climate is 
over cold and damp, or else the heat and drought are sorely 
oppressive. The lonians do not all speak the same language, 
but use in different places four different dialects. Towards the 
south their first city is Miletus, next to which lie Myus and 
Priene*; 1 all these three are in Caria and have the same dialect. 
Their cities in Lydia are the following: Ephesus, Colophon, 
Lebedus, Teos, Clazomenae, and Phocsea. 2 The inhabitants of 
these towns have none of the peculiarities of speech which 
belong to the three first-named cities, but use a dialect of their 
own. There remain three other Ionian towns, two situate in 
isles, namely, Samos and Chios; and one upon the mainland, 
which is Erythrae. Of these Chios and Erythrae have the same 
dialect, while Samos possesses a language peculiar to itself. 
Such are the four varieties of which I spoke. 

143. Of the lonians at this period, one people, the Milesians, 
were in no danger of attack, as Cyrus had received them into 
alliance. The islanders also had as yet nothing to fear, since 
Phoenicia was still independent of Persia, and the Persians 
themselves were not a seafaring people. The Milesians had 

1 Miletus, Myus, and Priene all lay near the mouth of the Maeander (the 
modern Mender e). At their original colonisation they were all maritime 

1 These cities are enumerated in the order in which they stood, from south 
to north. Erythrse lay on the coast opposite Chios, between Teos and 

CHAP. 142-145. Doric Hexapolis 75 

separated from the common cause solely on account of the ex 
treme weakness of the lonians: for, feeble as the power of the 
entire Hellenic race was at that time, of all its tribes the Ionic 
was by far the feeblest and least esteemed, not possessing a 
single State of any mark excepting Athens. The Athenians 
and most of the other Ionic States over the world, went so far 
in their dislike of the name as actually to lay it aside; and 
even at the present day the greater number of them seem to 
me to be ashamed of it. But the twelve cities in Asia have 
always gloried in the appellation; they gave the temple which 
they built for themselves the name of the Panionium, and 
decreed that it should not be open to any of the other Ionic 
States; no State, however, except Smyrna, has craved admission 
to it. 

144. In the same way the Dorians of the region which is now 
called the Pentapolis, but which was formerly known as the 
Doric Hexapolis, exclude all their Dorian neighbours from their 
temple, the Triopium : l nay, they have even gone so far as to 
shut out from it certain of their own body who were guilty of 
an offence against the customs of the place. In the games 
which were anciently celebrated in honour of the Triopian 
Apollo, the prizes given to the victors were tripods of brass; 
and the rule was that these tripods should not be carried away 
from the temple, but should then and there be dedicated to the 
god. Now a man of Halicarnassus, whose name was Agasicles, 
being declared victor in the games, in open contempt of the 
law, took the tripod home to his own house and there hung it 
against the wall. As a punishment for this fault, the five other 
cities, Lindus, lalyssus, Cameirus, Cos, and Cnidus, deprived 
the sixth city, Halicarnassus, of the right of entering the temple. 2 

145. The lonians founded twelve cities in Asia, and refused 
to enlarge the number, on account (as I imagine) of their 
having been divided into twelve States when they lived in the 
Peloponnese; just as the Achaeans, who drove them out, are at 
the present day. The first city of the Achseans after Sicyon, is 

1 The Triopium was built on a promontory of the same name within the 
territory of the Cnidians. 

a Lindus, lalyssus, and Cameirus were in Rhodes; Cos was on the island 
of the same name, at the mouth of the Ceramic Gulf. Cnidus and Halicar- 
aassus were on the mainland, the former near to the Triopium, the latter 
on the north shore of the Ceramic Gulf, on the site now occupied by 
Boodroom. These six cities formed an Amphictyony, which held its 
meetings at the temple of Apollo, called the Triopium, near Cnidus, the 
most central of the cities. 

76 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

Pellene", next to which are ^Egeira, ^Egae upon the Crathis, a 
stream which is never dry, and from which the Italian Crathis ] 
received its name, Bura, Helice where the lonians took 
refuge on their defeat by the Achaean invaders, JEgium, 
Rhypes, Patreis, Phareis, Olenus on the Peirus, which is a large 
river, Dyme and Tritaeeis, all sea-port towns except the last 
two, which lie up the country. 

146. These are the twelve divisions of what is now Achsea, 
and was formerly Ionia; and it was owing to their coming from 
a country so divided that the lonians, on reaching Asia, founded 
their twelve States: for it is the height of folly to maintain 
that these lonians are more Ionian than the rest, or in any 
respect better born, since the truth is that no small portion of 
them were Abantians from Eubcea, who are not even lonians in 
name; and, besides, there were mixed up with the emigration, 
Minyae from Orchomenus, Cadmeians, Dryopians, Phocians from 
the several cities of Phocis, Molossians, Arcadian Pelasgi, 
Dorians from Epidaurus, and many other distinct tribes. Even 
those who came from the Prytaneum of Athens, 2 and reckon 
themselves the purest lonians of all, brought no wives with 
them to the new country, but married Carian girls, whose 
fathers they had slain. Hence these women made a law, which 
they bound themselves by an oath to observe, and which they 
handed down to their daughters after them, " That none should 
ever sit at meat with her husband, or call him by his name; 
because the invaders slew their fathers, their husbands, and 
their sons, and then forced them to become their wives. It 
was at Miletus that these events took place. 

147. The kings, too, whom they set over them, were either 
Lycians, of the blood of Glaucus, 8 son of Hippolochus, or Pylian 
Caucons 4 of the blood of Codrus, son of Melanthus; or else 

1 The Italian Crathis ran close by our author s adopted city, Thurium 
(infra, v. 45). 

2 This expression alludes to the solemnities which accompanied the send 
ing out of a colony. In the Prytaneum, or Government-house, of each 
state was preserved the sacred fire, which was never allowed to go out, 
whereon the life of the State was supposed to depend. When a colony 
took its departure, the leaders went in solemn procession to the Prytaneum 
of -the mother city, and took fresh fire from the sacred hearth, which was 
conveyed to the Prytaneum of the new settlement. 

9 See Horn. II. ii. 876. 

* The Caucons are reckoned by Strabo among the earliest inhabitants 
of Greece, and associated with the Pelasgi, Leleges, and Dryopes (vii. 
p. 465). Like their kindred tribes, they were very widely spread. Their 
chief settlements, however, appear to have been on the north coast of 
Asia Minor. 

CHAP. 146-150. Twelve ^Eolian Cities 77 

from both those families. But since these lonians set more 
store by the name than any of the others, let them pass for the 
pure-bred lonians; though truly all are lonians who have their 
origin from Athens, and keep the Apaturia. 1 This is a festival 
which all the lonians celebrate, except the Ephesians and the 
Colophonians, whom a certain act of bloodshed excludes from it. 

148. The Panionium 2 is a place in Mycale, facing the north, 
which was chosen by the common voice of the lonians and made 
sacred to Heliconian Neptune. 3 Mycale itself is a promontory 
of the mainland, stretching out westward towards Samos, in 
which the lonians assemble from all their States to keep the 
feast of the Panionia. 4 The names of festivals, not only among 
the lonians but among all the Greeks, end, like the Persian 
proper names, in one and the same letter. 

149. The above-mentioned, then, are the twelve towns of the 
lonians. The ^Eolic cities are the following: Cyme, called 
also Phriconis, Larissa, Neonteichus, Temnus, Cilia, Notium, 
^Egiroessa, Pitane", ^Egaeae, Myrina, and Gryneia. These are 
the eleven ancient cities of the ^Eolians. Originally, indeed, 
they had twelve cities upon the mainland, like the lonians, but 
the lonians deprived them of Smyrna, one of the number. The 
soil of ^Eolis is better than that of Ionia, but the climate is 
less agreeable. 

150. The following is the way in which the loss of Smyrna 
happened. Certain men of Colophon had been engaged in a 
sedition there, and being the weaker party, were driven by the 
others into banishment. The Smyrnseans received the fugitives, 
who, after a time, watching their opportunity, while the inhabi- 

1 The Apaturia was the solemn annual meeting of the phratries, for the 
purpose of registering the children of the preceding year whose birth entitled 
them to citizenship. It took place in the month Pyanepsion (November), 
and lasted three days. 

3 Under the name of Panionium are included both a tract of ground and 
a temple. It is the former of which Herodotus here speaks particularly, 
as the place in which the great Pan- Ionic festival was held. The spot 
was on the north side of the promontory of Mycale. The Panionium was 
in the territory of Priene, and consequently under the guardianship of 
that state. 

3 Heliconian Neptune was so called from Helic6, which is mentioned 
above among the ancient Ionian cities in the Peloponnese (ch. 145). This 
had been the central point of the old confederacy, and the temple there had 
been in old times their place of meeting. 

* It is remarkable that Thucydides, writing so shortly after Herodotus, 
should speak of the Pan-Ionic festival at Mycale as no longer of any 
importance, and regard it as practically superseded by the festival of the 
Ephesia, held near Ephesus (iii. 104). Still the old feast continued, and 
was celebrated as late as the time of Augustus. 

78 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

tants were celebrating a feast to Bacchus outside the walls, shut 
to the gates, and so got possession of the town. The ^Eolians 
of the other States came to their aid, and terms were agreed on 
between the parties, the lonians consenting to give up all the 
moveables, and the ^Eolians making a surrender of the place. 
The expelled Smyrnaeans were distributed among the other 
States of the ^Eolians, and were everywhere admitted to citizen 

151. These, then, were all the ^Eolic cities upon the main- 
land, with the exception of those about Mount Ida, which made 
no part of this confederacy. 1 As for the islands, Lesbos contains 
five cities. 2 Arisba, the sixth, was taken by the Methymnaeans, 
their kinsmen, and the inhabitants reduced to slavery. Tenedos 
contains one city, and there is another which is built on what 
are called the Hundred Isles. 3 The ^Eolians of Lesbos and 
Tenedos, like the Ionian islanders, had at this time nothing to 
fear. The other ^Eolians decided in their common assembly 
to follow the lonians, whatever course they should pursue. 

152. When the deputies of the lonians and ^Eolians, who had 
journeyed with all speed to Sparta, reached the city, they chose 
one of their number, Pythermus, a Phocaean, to be their spokes 
man. In order to draw together as large an audience as possible, 
he clothed himself in a purple garment, and so attired stood 
forth to speak. In a long discourse he besought the Spartans 
to come to the assistance of his countrymen, but they were not 
to be persuaded, and voted against sending any succour. The 
deputies accordingly went their way, while the Lacedaemonians, 
notwithstanding the refusal which they had given to the prayer 
of the deputation, despatched a penteconter 4 to the Asiatic coast 
with certain Spartans on board, for the purpose, as I think, of 
watching Cyrus and Ionia. These men, on their arrival at 
Phocaea, sent to Sardis Lacrines, the most distinguished of their 
number, to prohibit Cyrus, in the name of the Lacedaemonians, 
from offering molestation to any city of Greece, since they would 
not allow it. 

1 The district here indicated, and commonly called the Troad, extendec 
from Adramyttium on the south to Priapus on the north. 

2 The five Lesbian cities were: Mytilene, Methymna, Antissa, Eresus 
and Pyrrha. 

3 These islands lay off the promontory which separated the bay o 
Atarneus from that of Adramyttium, opposite to the northern part o 
the island of Lesbos. 

4 Penteconters were ships with fifty rowers, twenty-five on a side, wh 
sat on a level, as is customary in rowboats at the present day. 

CHAP. 151-155. Revolt of Sardis 79 

153. Cyrus is said, on hearing the speech of the herald, to 
have asked some Greeks who were standing by, Who these 
Lacedaemonians were, and what was their number, that they 
dared to send him such a notice? " x When he had received 
their reply, he turned to the Spartan herald and said, I have 
never yet been afraid of any men, who have a set place in the 
middle of their city, where they come together to cheat eacb 
other and forswear themselves. If I live, the Spartans shall 
have troubles enough of their own to talk of, without concerning 
themselves about the lonians." Cyrus intended these words as 
a reproach against all the Greeks, because of their having market 
places where they buy and sell, which is a custom unknown to the 
Persians, who never make purchases in open marts, and indeed 
have not in their whole country a single market-place. 2 

After this interview Cyrus quitted Sardis, leaving the city 
under the charge of Tabalus, a Persian, but appointing Pactyas, 
a native, to collect the treasure belonging to Croesus and the 
other Lydians, and bring it after him. Cyrus himself pro 
ceeded towards Agbatana, carrying Croesus along with him, 
not regarding the lonians as important enough to be his im 
mediate object. Larger designs were in his mind. He wished 
to war in person against Babylon, the Bactrians, the Sacae, 3 and 
Egypt; he therefore determined to assign to one of his generals 
the task of conquering the lonians. 

154. No sooner, however, was Cyrus gone from Sardis than 
Pactyas induced his countrymen to rise in open revolt against 
him and his deputy Tabalus. With the vast treasures at his 
disposal he then went down to the sea, and employed them in 
hiring mercenary troops, while at the same time he engaged the 
people of the coast to enrol themselves in his army. He then 
marched upon Sardis, where he besieged Tabalus, who shut 
himself up in the citadel. 

155. When Cyrus, on his way to Agbatana, received these 
tidings, he turned to Croesus and said, " Where will all this end, 

1 Compare v. 73 and 105. 

2 Markets in the strict sense of the word are still unknown in the East, 
where the bazaars, which are collections of shops, take their place. The 
Persians of the nobler class would neither buy nor sell at all, since they 
would be supplied by their dependents and through presents with all that 
they required for the common purposes of life. Those of lower rank 
would buy at the shops, which were not allowed in the Forum, or public 
place of meeting. 

3 Bactria may be regarded as fairly represented by the modern Balkh. 
The Sacae (Scyths) are more difficult to locate; it only appears that their 
country bordered upon and lay beyond Bactria. 

I*5 D 

80 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

Croesus, thinkest thou ? It seemeth that these Lydians will not 
cease to cause trouble both to themselves and others. I doubt 
me if it were not best to sell them all for slaves. Methinks 
what I have now done is as if a man were to kill the father 
and then spare the child/ Thou, who wert something more 
than a father to thy people, I have seized and carried off, and 
to that people I have entrusted their city. Can I then feel 
surprise at their rebellion ? Thus did Cyrus open to Croesus 
his thoughts ; whereat the latter, full of alarm lest Cyrus should 
lay Sardis in ruins, replied as follows: " Oh ! my king, thy words 
are reasonable; but do not, I beseech thee, give full vent to 
thy anger, nor doom to destruction an ancient city, guiltless 
alike of the past and of the present trouble. I caused the one, 
and in my own person now pay the forfeit. Pactyas has caused 
the other, he to whom thou gavest Sardis in charge; let him 
bear the punishment. Grant, then, forgiveness to the Lydians, 
and to make sure of their never rebelling against thee, or 
alarming thee more, send and forbid them to keep any weapons 
of war, command them to wear tunics under their cloaks, and 
to put buskins upon their legs, and make them bring up their 
sons to cithern-playing, harping, and shop-keeping. So wilt 
thou soon see them become women instead of men, and there 
will be no more fear of their revolting from thee." 

156. Croesus thought the Lydians would even so be better ofi 
than if they were sold for slaves, and therefore gave the above 
advice to Cyrus, knowing that, unless he brought forward some 
notable suggestion, he would not be able to persuade him to 
alter his mind. He was likewise afraid lest, after escaping the 
danger which now pressed, the Lydians at some future time 
might revolt from the Persians and so bring themselves to ruin. 
The advice pleased Cyrus, who consented to forego his anger 
and do as Croesus had said. Thereupon he summoned to his 
presence a certain Mede, Mazares by name, and charged him 
to issue orders to the Lydians in accordance with the terms of 
Croesus discourse. Further, he commanded him to sell for 
slaves all who had joined the Lydians in their attack upon 
Sardis, and above aught else to be sure that he brought Pactyas 
with him alive on his return. Having given these orders Cyrus 
continued his journey towards the Persian territory. 

157. Pactyas, when news came of the near approach of the 
army sent against him, fled in terror to Cyme. Mazares, 
therefore, the Median general, who had marched on Sardis with 

CHAP. 156-159. Aristodicus and the Oracle 8 1 

a detachment of the army of Cyrus, finding on his arrival that 
Pactyas and his troops were gone, immediately entered the 
town. And first of all he forced the Lydians to obey the orders 
of his master, and change (as they did from that time) their 
entire manner of living. Next, he despatched messengers to 
Cyme, and required to have Pactyas delivered up to him. On 
this the Cymaeans resolved to send to Branchidae and ask the 
advice of the god. Branchidae l is situated in the territory of 
Miletus, above the port of Panormus. There was an oracle 
there, established in very ancient times, which both the lonians 
and ^Eolians were wont often to consult. 

158. Hither therefore the Cymaeans sent their deputies to 
make inquiry at the shrine, What the gods would like them 
to do with the Lydian, Pactyas? The oracle told them, in 
reply, to give him up to the Persians. With this answer the 
messengers returned, and the people of Cyme were ready to 
surrender him accordingly; but as they were preparing to do so, 
Aristodicus, son of Heraclides, a citizen of distinction, hindered 
them. He declared that he distrusted the response, and 
believed that the messengers had reported it falsely; until at 
last another embassy, of which Aristodicus himself made part, 
was despatched, to repeat the former inquiry concerning 

159. On their arrival at the shrine of the god, Aristodicus, 
speaking on behalf of the whole body, thus addressed the 
oracle: "Oh! king, Pactyas the Lydian, threatened by the 
Persians with a violent death, has come to us for sanctuary, and 
lo, they ask him at our hands, calling upon our nation to deliver 
him up. Now, though we greatly dread the Persian power, yet 
have we not been bold to give up our suppliant, till we have 
certain knowledge of thy mind, what thou wouldst have us to 
do." The oracle thus questioned gave the same answer as 
before, bidding them surrender Pactyas to the Persians; where 
upon Aristodicus, who had come prepared for such an answer, 
proceeded to make the circuit of the temple, and to take all 
the nests of young sparrows and other birds that he could find 
about the building. As he was thus employed, a voice, it is 
said, came forth from the inner sanctuary, addressing Aristodicus 

The temple of Apollo at Branchidae and the port Panormus still remain. 
The former is twelve miles from Miletus, nearly due south. It lies near the 
shore, about two miles inland from Cape Monodendri. It is a magnificent 
ruin of Ionic architecture. [See Frazer s Pausanias, vol. iv. 126 (E.H.B.).] 

82 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

in these words : Most impious of men, what is this thou hast 
the face to do ? Dost thou tear my suppliants from my temple ?" 
Aristodicus, at no less for a reply, rejoined, " Oh, king, art thou 
so ready to protect thy suppliants, and dost thou command the 
Cymaeans to give up a suppliant ? " Yes," returned the god, 
1 1 do command it, that so for the impiety you may the sooner 
perish, and not come here again to consult my oracle about the 
surrender of suppliants." 

1 60. On the receipt of this answer the Cymaeans, unwilling to 
bring the threatened destruction on themselves by giving up 
the man, and afraid of having to endure a siege if they con 
tinued to harbour him, sent Pactyas away to Mytilene. On 
this Mazares despatched envoys to the Mytilenseans to demand 
the fugitive of them, and they were preparing to give him up 
for a reward (I cannot say with certainty how large, as the 
bargain was not completed), when the Cymaeans, hearing what 
the Mytilenseans were about, sent a vessel to Lesbos, and con 
veyed away Pactyas to Chios. From hence it was that he was 
surrendered. The Chians dragged him from the temple of 
Minerva Poliuchus * and gave him up to the Persians, on con 
dition of receiving the district of Atarneus, a tract of Mysia 
opposite to Lesbos, 2 as the price of the surrender. Thus did 
Pactyas fall into the hands of his pursuers, who kept a strict 
watch upon him, that they might be able to produce him before 
Cyrus. For a long time afterwards none of the Chians would 
use the barley of Atarneus to place on the heads of victims, or 
make sacrificial cakes of the corn grown there, but the whole 
produce of the land was excluded from all their temples. 

161. Meanwhile Mazares, after he had recovered Pactyas 
from the Chians, made war upon those who had taken part in 
the attack on Tabalus, and in the first place took Priene" and 
sold the inhabitants for slaves, after which he overran the 
whole plain of the Maeander and the district of Magnesia, 3 both 
of which he gave up for pillage to the soldiery. He then 
suddenly sickened and died. 

162. Upon his death Harpagus was sent down to the coast to 
succeed to his command. He also was of the race of the Medes, 
being the man whom the Median king, Astyages, feasted at the 

1 That is, " Minerva, Guardian of the citadel." 

* Atarneus lay to the north of the ^EoUs of Herodotus, almost exactly 
opposite to Mytilene". 

1 Not Magnesia under Sipylus, but Magnesia on the Mtzander, one of the- 
tew ancient Greek settlements situated far inland. 

CHAP. 160164. Siege of Phocaea 8 3 

unholy banquet, and who lent his aid to place Cyrus upon the 
throne. Appointed by Cyrus to conduct the war in these parts, 
he entered Ionia, and took the cities by means of mounds* 
Forcing the enemy to shut themselves up within their defences, 
he heaped mounds of earth against their walls/ and thus carried 
the towns. Phocaea was the city against which he directed his 
first attack. 

163. Now the Phocseans were the first of the Greeks who 
performed long voyages, and it was they who made the Greeks 
acquainted with the Adriatic and with Tyrrhenia, with Iberia, 
and the city of Tartessus. 2 The vessel which they used in their 
voyages was not the round-built merchant-ship, but the long 
penteconter. On their arrival at Tartessus, the king of the 
country, whose name was Arganthonius, took a liking to them. 
This monarch reigned over the Tartessians for eighty years, 
and lived to be a hundred and twenty years old. He regarded 
the Phocaeans with so much favour as, at first, to beg them to 
quit Ionia and settle in whatever part of his country they liked. 
Afterwards, finding that he could not prevail upon them to 
agree to this, and hearing that the Mede was growing great in 
their neighbourhood, he gave them money to build a wall about 
their town, and certainly he must have given it with a bountiful 
hand, for the town is many furlongs in circuit, and the wall is 
built entirely of great blocks of stone skilfully fitted together* 
The wall, then, was built by his aid. 

164. Harpagus, having advanced against the Phocaeans with 
his army, laid siege to their city, first, however, offering them 
terms. " It would content him," he said, " if the Phocaeans 
would agree to throw down one of their battlements, and 
dedicate one dwelling-house to the king." The Phocseans, 
sorely vexed at the thought of becoming slaves, asked a single 
day to deliberate on the answer they should return, and be 
sought Harpagus during that day to draw off his forces from 
the walls. Harpagus replied, " that he understood well enough 
what they were about to do, but nevertheless he would grant 
their request." Accordingly the troops were withdrawn, and 

1 This plan seems not to have been known to the Lydians. The Persians 
had learnt it, in all probability, from the Assyrians, by whom it had long 
been practised. (2 Kings xix. 32. Isaiah xxxvii. 33.) 

*The Iberia of Herodotus is the Spanish Peninsula. Tartessus was a 
colony founded there very early by the Phoenicians. It was situated 
beyond the straits at the mouth of the Baetis (Guadalquivir], near the site 
of the modern Cadiz. Tarsus, Tartessus, Tarshish, are variants of the 
same word. [See Ulick Burke s History of Spain, vol. i. ch. i. (E.H.B.).J 

84 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

the Phoceans forthwith took advantage of their absence to 
launch their penteconters, and put on board their wives and 
children, their household goods, and even the images of their 
gods, with all the votive offerings from the fanes, except the 
paintings and the works in stone or brass, which were left 
behind. With the rest they embarked, and putting to sea, set 
sail for Chios. The Persians, on their return, took possession 
of an empty town. 

165. Arrived at Chios, the Phocaeans made offers for the 
purchase of the islands called the GEnussae, 1 but the Chians 
refused to part with them, fearing lest the Phocaeans should 
establish a factory there, and exclude their merchants from the 
commerce of those seas. On their refusal, the Phocaeans, as 
Arganthonius was now dead, made up their minds to sail to 
Cyrnus (Corsica), where, twenty years before, following the 
direction of an oracle, 2 they had founded a city, which was 
called Alalia. Before they set out, however, on this voyage, 
they sailed once more to Phocaea, and surprising the Persian 
troops appointed by Harpagus to garrison the town, put them 
all to the sword. After this they laid the heaviest curses on 
the man who should draw back and forsake the armament; and 
having dropped a heavy mass of iron into the sea, swore never 
to return to Phocaea till that mass reappeared upon the surface. 
Nevertheless, as they were preparing to depart for Cyrnus, more 
than half of their number were seized with such sadness and so 
great a longing to see once more their city and their ancient 
homes, that they broke the oath by which they had bound 
themselves and sailed back to Phocaea. 

1 66. The rest of the Phocaeans, who kept their oath, proceeded 
without stopping upon their voyage, and when they came to 
Cyrnus established themselves along with the earlier settlers at 
Alalia and built temples in the place. For five years they 
annoyed their neighbours by plundering and pillaging on all 
sides, until at length the Carthaginians and Tyrrhenians 8 

1 The CEnussag lay between Chios and the mainland, opposite the northern 
extremity of that island (Lat. 38 33 ). 

a A most important influence was exercised by the Greek oracles, especi 
ally that of Delphi, over the course of Hellenic colonisation. Further 
instances occur, iv. 155, 157, 159; y. 42. 

8 The naval power of the Tyrrhenians was about this time at its height. 
Populonia and Caere (or Agylla) were the most important of their maritime 
towns. Like the Greeks at a somewhat earlier period (Thucyd. i. 5), 
the Tyrrhenians at this time and for some centuries afterwards were 

CHAP. 165-168. Phocaeans Defeated 85 

leagued against them, and sent each a fleet of sixty ships to 
attack the town. The Phocaeans, on their part, manned all 
their vessels, sixty in number, and met their enemy on the 
Sardinian sea. In the engagement which followed the Phocaeans 
were victorious, but their success was only a sort of Cadmeian 
victory. 1 They lost forty ships in the battle, and the twenty 
which remained came out of the engagement with beaks so bent 
and blunted as to be no longer serviceable. The Phocseans 
therefore sailed back again to Alalia, and taking their wives and 
children on board, with such portion of their goods and chattels 
as the vessels could bear, bade adieu to Cyrnus and sailed to 

167. The Carthaginians and Tyrrhenians, who had got into 
their hands many more than the Phocaeans from among the 
crews of the forty vessels that were destroyed, landed their cap 
tives upon the coast after the fight, and stoned them all to 
death. Afterwards, when sheep, or oxen, or even men of the 
district of Agylla passed by the spot where the murdered 
Phocaeans lay, their bodies became distorted, or they were 
seized with palsy, or they lost the use of some of their limbs. 
On this the people of Agylla sent to Delphi to ask the oracle 
how they might expiate their sin. The answer of the Pythoness 
required them to institute the custom, which they still observe, 
of honouring the dead Phocaeans with magnificent funeral rites, 
and solemn games, both gymnic and equestrian. Such, then, 
was the fate that befell the Phocsean prisoners. The other 
Phocaeans, who had fled to Rhegium, became after a while the 
founders of the city called Vela, 2 in the district of (Enotria. 
This city they colonised, upon the showing of a man of Posi- 
donia, 3 who suggested that the oracle had not meant to bid 
them set up a town in Cyrnus the island, but set up the worship 
of Cyrnus the hero. 4 

1 68. Thus fared it with the men of the city of Phocaea in 
Ionia. They of Teos 5 did and suffered almost the same; for 

1 A Cadmeian victory was one from which the victor received more 
hurt than profit. 

2 This is the town more commonly called Velia or Elea, where soon 
afterwards the great Eleatic school of philosophy arose. 

* This is the place now known as P&stum, so famous for its beautiful 

4 Cyrnus was a son of Hercules. 

6 Teos was situated on the south side of the isthmus which joined the 
peninsula of Erythras to the mainland, very nearly opposite Clazomena 
(Strab. xiv. p. 922). It was the birthplace of Anacreon, the lyric pot. 

86 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

they too, when Harpagus had raised his mound to the height of 
their defences, took ship, one and all, and sailing across the sea 
to Thrace, founded there the city of Abdera. 1 The site was one 
which Timesius of Clazomenae had previously tried to colonise, 
but without any lasting success, for he was expelled by the 
Thracians. Still the Teians of Abdera worship him to this day 
as a hero. 

169. Of all the lonians these two states alone, rather than 
submit to slavery, forsook their fatherland. The others (I 
except Miletus) resisted Harpagus no less bravely than those 
who fled their country, and performed many feats of arms, each 
fighting in their own defence, but one after another they suffered 
defeat; the cities were taken, and the inhabitants submitted, 
remaining in their respective countries, and obeying the behests 
of their new lords. Miletus, as I have already mentioned, had 
made terms with Cyrus, and so continued at peace. Thus was 
continental Ionia once more reduced to servitude; and when 
the lonians of the islands saw their brethren upon the mainland 
subjugated, they also, dreading the like, gave themselves up to 
Cyrus. 2 

170. It was while the lonians were in this distress, but still, 
amid it all, held their meetings, as of old, at the Panioniuin, 
that Bias of Priene, who was present at the festival, recom 
mended (as I am informed) a project of the very highest wisdom, 
which would, had it been embraced, have enabled the lonians 
to become the happiest and most flourishing of the Greeks. He 
exhorted them "to join in one body, set sail for Sardinia, and 
there found a single Pan-Ionic city; so they would escape from 
slavery and rise to great fortune, being masters of the largest 
island in the world, 3 exercising dominion even beyond its 
bounds; whereas if they stayed in Ionia, he saw no prospect of 
their ever recovering their lost freedom/ Such was the counsel 
which Bias gave the lonians in their affliction. Before their 
misfortunes began, Thales, a man of Miletus, of Phoenician 
descent, had recommended a different plan. He counselled 
them to establish a single seat of government, and pointed out 

1 For the site of Abdera, vide infra, vii. 109. 

3 This statement appears to be too general. Samos certainly maintained 
her independence till the reign of Darius (vide infra, iii. 120). 

8 Herodotus appears to have been entirely convinced that there was no 
island in the world so large as Sardinia. He puts the assertion into the 
mouth of Histiaeus (v. 106), and again (vi.a) repeats the statement, without 
expressing any doubt of the fact. 

CHAP. 169-171. The Carians 87 

Teos as the fittest place for it; " for that/ he said, " was the 
centre of Ionia. Their other cities might still continue to enjoy 
their own laws, just as if they were independent states." This 
also was good advice. 

171. After conquering the lonians, Harpagus proceeded to 
attack the Carians, the Caunians, and the Lycians. The lonians 
and ^Eolians were forced to serve in his army. Now, of the 
above nations the Carians are a race who came into the main 
land from the islands. In ancient times they were subjects of 
king Minos, and went by the name of Leleges, dwelling among 
the isles, and, so far as I have been able to push my inquiries, 
never liable to give tribute to any man. They served on board 
the ships of king Minos whenever he required ; and thus, as he 
was a great conqueror and prospered in his wars, the Carians 
were in his day the most famous by far of all the nations of the 
earth. They likewise were the inventors of three, things, the 
use of which was borrowed from them by the Greeks ; they were 
the first to fasten crests on helmets and to put devices on shields, 
and they also invented handles for shields. In the earlier times 
shields were without handles, and their wearers managed them 
by the aid of a leathern thong, by which they were slung round 
the neck and left shoulder. 1 Long after the time of Minos, 
the Carians were driven from the islands by the lonians and 
Dorians, and so settled upon the mainland. The above is the 
account which the Cretans give of the Carians: the Carians 
themselves say very differently. They maintain that they are 
the aboriginal inhabitants of the part of the mainland where they 
now dwell, 2 and never had any other name than that which they 
still bear; and in proof of this they show an ancient temple of 
Carian Jove in the country of the Mylasians, 3 in which the 
Mysians and Lydians have the right of worshipping, as brother 
races to the Carians: for Lydus and Mysus, they say, were 
brothers of Car. These nations, therefore, have the aforesaid 
right; but such as are of a different race, even though they 
have come to use the Carian tongue, are excluded from this 

1 Homer generally represents his heroes as managing their shields in 
this way (II. ii. 388; iy. 796; xi. 38; xii. 401, etc). Sometimes, however, 
he speaks of shields with handles to them (viii. 193). 

a It seems probable that the Carians, who were a kindred nation to the 
Lydians and the Mysians, belonged originally to the Asiatic continent, 
and thence spread to the islands. 

3 Mylasa was an inland town of Caria, about 20 miles from the sea. It 
was the capital of the later Carian kingdom (B.C. 385-334). 

I 405 *D 

The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

172. The Caunians, 1 in my judgment, are aboriginals; but by 
their own account they came from Crete. In their language, 
either they have approximated to the Carians, or the Carians to 
them on this point I cannot speak with certainty. In their 
customs, however, they differ greatly from the Carians, and not 
only so, but from all other men. They think it a most honour 
able practice for friends or persons of the same age, whether 
they be men, women, or children, to meet together in large 
companies, for the purpose of drinking wine. Again, on one 
occasion they determined that they would no longer make use 
of the foreign temples which had been long established among 
them, but would worship their own old ancestral gods alone. 
Then their whole youth took arms, and striking the air with 
their spears, marched to the Calyndic frontier, 2 declaring that 
they were driving out the foreign gods. 

173. The Lycians are in good truth anciently from Crete; 
which island, in former days, was wholly peopled with bar 
barians. A quarrel arising there between the two sons of 
Europa, Sarpedon and Minos, as to which of them should be 
king, Minos, whose party prevailed, drove Sarpedon and his 
followers into banishment. The exiles sailed to Asia, 3 and 
landed on the Milyan territory. Milyas was the ancient name 
of the country now inhabited by the Lycians : 4 the Milyae of the 
present day were, in those times, called Solymi. 5 So long as 
Sarpedon reigned, his followers kept the name which they 
brought with them from Crete, and were called Termilae, as the 
Lycians still are by those who live in their neighbourhood. 
But after Lycus, the son of Pandion, banished from Athens by 
his brother ^Egeus, had found a refuge with Sarpedon in the 
country of these Termilae, they came, in course of time, to be 
called from him Lycians. Their customs are partly Cretan, 

1 The Caunians occupied a small district on the coast. 

* Calynda was on the borders of Caria and Lycia. 

8 It is doubtful whether there is any truth at all in this tale, which 
would connect the Greeks with Lycia. One thing is clear, namely, that 
the real Lycian people of history were an entirely distinct race from the 

4 Milyas continued to be a district of Lycia in the age of Augustus. 

6 The Solymi were mentioned by Chaerilus, who was contemporary with 
Herodotus and wrote a poem on the Persian War, as forming a part of 
the army of Xerxes. Their language, according to him, was Phoenician. 
That the Pisidians were Solymi is asserted by Pliny. The same people 
left their name in Lycia to Mount Solyma. Here we seem to have a trace 
of a Semitic occupation of these countries preceding the Indo-European. 
(Comp. Horn. II. vi. 184.) [Ace. to Tacitus, Hist. v. 2, some made them 
the ancestors of the Jews (E.H.B.).] 

CHAP. 172-175. The Cnidians 

partly Carian. They have, however, one singular custom in 
which they differ from every other nation in the world. They 
take the mother s and not the father s name. Ask a Lycian 
who he is, and he answers by giving his own name, that of his 
mother, and so on in the female line. Moreover, if a free woman 
marry a man who is a slave, their children are full citizens; 
but if a free man marry a foreign woman, or live with a con 
cubine, even though he be the first person in the State, the 
children forfeit all the rights of citizenship. 

174. Of these nations, the Carians submitted to Harpagus 
without performing any brilliant exploits. Nor did the Greeks 
who dwelt in Caria behave with any greater gallantry. Among 
them were the Cnidians, colonists from Lacedaemon, who occupy 
a district facing the sea, which is called Triopium. This region 
adjoins upon the Bybassian Chersonese; and, except a very 
small space, is surrounded by the sea, being bounded on the 
north by the Ceramic Gulf, and on the south by the channel 
towards the islands of Syme and Rhodes. While Harpagus was 
engaged in the conquest of Ionia, the Cnidians, wishing to make 
their country an island, attempted to cut through this narrow 
neck of land, which was no more than five furlongs across from 
sea to sea. Their whole territory lay inside the isthmus; for 
where Cnidia ends towards the mainland, the isthmus begins 
which they were now seeking to cut through. The work had 
been commenced, and many hands were employed upon it, 
when it was observed that there seemed to be something unusual 
and unnatural in the number of wounds that the workmen 
received, especially about their eyes, from the splintering of 
the rock. The Cnidians, therefore, sent to Delphi, to inquire 
what it was that hindered their efforts; and received, according 
to their own account, the following answer from the oracle :- 

Fence not the isthmus off, nor dig it through 
Jove would have made an island, had he wished. 

So the Cnidians ceased digging, and when Harpagus advanced 
with his army, they gave themselves up to him without striking 
a blow. 

175. Above Halicarnassus, and further from the coast, were 
the Pedasians. 1 With this people, when any evil is about to 
befall either themselves or their neighbours, the priestess of 

1 Pedasus was reckoned in Caria (infra, v. 121). Its exact site is un 

90 The History of Herodotus BOOK L 

Minerva grows an ample beard. Three times has this marvel 
happened. They alone, of all the dwellers in Caria, resisted 
Harpagus for a while, and gave him much trouble, maintaining 
themselves in a certain mountain called Lida, which they had 
fortified ; but in course of time they also were forced to submit. 

176. When Harpagus, after these successes, led his forces into 
the Xanthian plain, 1 the Lycians of Xanthus 2 went out to meet 
him in the field: though but a small band against a numerous 
host, they engaged in battle, and performed many glorious 
exploits. Overpowered at last, and forced within their walls, 
they collected into the citadel their wives and children, all their 
treasures, and their slaves; and having so done, fired the 
building, and burnt it to the ground. After this, they bound 
themselves together by dreadful oaths, and sallying forth against 
the enemy, died sword in hand, not one escaping. Those 
Lycians who now claim to be Xanthians, are foreign immigrants, 
except eighty families, who happened to be absent from the 
country, and so survived the others. Thus was Xanthus taken 
by Harpagus, 8 and Caunus fell in like manner into his hands; 
for the Caunians in the main followed the example of the Lycians. 

177. While the lower parts of Asia were in this way brought 
under by Harpagus, Cyrus in person subjected the upper regioas, 
conquering every nation, and not suffering one to escape. Of 
these conquests I shall pass by the greater portion, and give an 
account of those only which gave him the most trouble, and are 
the worthiest of mention. When he had brought all the rest of 
the continent under his sway, he made war on the Assyrians. 4 

178. Assyria possesses a vast number of great cities, 6 whereof 
the most renowned and strongest at this time was Babylon, 
whither, after the fall of Nineveh, the seat of government had 
been removed. The following is a description of the place: 
The city stands on a broad plain, and is an exact square, a 
hundred and twenty furlongs in length each way, so that the 

1 The Xanthian plain is to the south of the city, being in fact the alluvial 
deposit of the river Xanthus. 

* The real name of the city which the Greeks called Xanthus seems to 
have been Arna or Arina. This is confirmed by the monuments of the 

3 There is reason to believe that the government of Lycia remained in the 
family of Harpagus. 

4 Herodotus includes Babylonia in Assyria (vide supra, ch. 106). 

6 The large number of important cities in Assyria, especially if we include 
in it Babylonia, is one of the most remarkable features of Assyrian great 

CHAP. 176-180. Babylon 91 

entire circuit is four hundred and eighty furlongs. 1 While such 
is its size, in magnificence there is no other city that approaches 
to it. It is surrounded, in the first place, by a broad and deep 
moat, full of water, behind which rises a wall fifty royal cubits 
in width, and two hundred in height. 2 (The royal cubit 3 
is longer by three fingers breadth than the common cubit.) 4 

179. And here I may not omit to tell the use to which the 
mould dug out of the great moat was turned, nor the manner 
wherein the wall was wrought. As fast as they dug the moat 
the soil which they got from the cutting was made into bricks, 
and when a sufficient number were completed they baked the 
bricks in kilns. Then they set to building, and began with 
bricking the borders of the moat, after which they proceeded to 
construct the wall itself, using throughout for their cement hot 
bitumen, and interposing a layer of wattled reeds at every 
thirtieth course of the bricks. 6 On the top, along the edges of 
the wall, they constructed buildings of a single chamber facing 
one another, leaving between them room for a four-horse chariot 
to turn. In the circuit of the wall are a hundred gates, all of 
brass, with brazen lintels and side-posts. The bitumen used in 
the work was brought to Babylon from the Is, a small stream 
which flows into the Euphrates at the point where the city 
of the same name stands, eight days journey from Babylon. 
Lumps of bitumen are found in great abundance in this river. 

1 80. The city is divided into two portions by the river which 
runs through the midst of it. This river is the Euphrates, a 
broad, deep, swift stream, which rises in Armenia, and empties 
itself into the Erythraean sea. The city wall is brought down 
on both sides to the edge of the stream: thence, from the 
corners of the wall, there is carried along each bank of the river 
a fence of burnt bricks. The houses are mostly three and four 
stories high; the streets all run in straight lines, not only those 

1 The vast space enclosed within the walls of Babylon is noticed by 
Aristotle. (Polit. iii. i, sub fin.). 

a The great width and height of the walls are noticed in Scripture 
(Jerem. fi. 53, 58). There can be no doubt that the Babylonians and 
Assyrians surrounded their cities with walls of a height which, to us, is 

3 The Greek metrical system was closely connected with the Babylonian. 

4 Assuming at present that the Babylonian foot nearly equalled the 
English, the common cubit would have been i foot 8 inches, and the Royal 
cubit i foot 10.4 inches. 

* Layers of reeds are found in some of the remains of brick buildings 
at present existing in Babylonia, but usually at much smaller intervals 
than here indicated. 

92 The History of Herodotus BOOK L 

parallel to the river, but also the cross streets which lead down 
to the water-side. At the river end of these cross streets are 
low gates in the fence that skirts the stream, which are, like the 
great gates in the outer wall, of brass, and open on the water. 

181. The outer wall is the main defence of the city. There 
is, however, a second inner wall, of less thickness than the first, 
but very little inferior to it in strength. 1 The centre of each 
division of the town was occupied by a fortress. In the one 
stood the palace of the kings, 2 surrounded by a wall of great 
strength and size: in the other was the sacred precinct of 
Jupiter Belus, 3 a square enclosure two furlongs each way, with 
gates of solid brass; which was also remaining in my time. In 
the middle of the precinct there was a tower of solid masonry, 
a furlong in length and breadth, upon which was raised a second 
tower, and on that a third, and so on up to eight. The ascent 
to the top is on the outside, by a path which winds round all 
the towers. When one is about half-way up, one finds a resting- 
place and seats, where persons are wont to sit some time on 
their way to the summit. On the topmost tower there is a 
spacious temple, and inside the temple stands a couch of un 
usual size, richly adorned, with a golden table by its side. 
There is no statue of any kind set up in the place, nor is the 
chamber occupied of nights by any one but a single native 
woman, who, as the Chaldaeans, the priests of this god, 4 affirm, is 
chosen for himself by the deity out of all the women of the landg 

182. They also declare but I for my part do not credit it 
that the god comes down in person into this chamber, and sleeps 
upon the couch. This is like the story told by the Egyptians 
of what takes place in their city of Thebes, 6 where a woman 

1 The " inner wall " here mentioned may have been the wall of Nebuchad 
nezzar s new city, which lay entirely within the ancient circuit. 

8 This is the mass or mound still called the Kasr or Palace, " a square 
of 700 yards in length and breadth.* (Rich, First Memoir, p. 22.) It is 
an immense pile of brickwork, chiefly of the finest kind. 

* The Babylonian worship of Bel is well known to us from Scripture 
(Isaiah xlvi. i; Jerem. 1. 2; Apoc. Dan. xii. 16). There is little doubt 
that he was (at least in the later tunes), the recognised head of the Baby 
lonian Pantheon, and therefore properly identified by the Greeks with 
their Zeus or Jupiter. 

4 The Chaldaeans then appear to have been a branch of the great Hamite 
race of Akkad, which inhabited Babylonia from the earliest times. With 
this race originated the art of writing, the building of cities, the institu 
tion of a religious system, and the cultivation of all science, and of 
astronomy in particular. 

1 This fable of the god coming personally into his temple was contrary 
to the Egyptian belief in the nature of the gods. It was only a figurative 
expression, similar to that of the Jews, who speak of God visiting and 
dwelling in his holy hill, and was not intended to be taken literally. 

CHAP. 181-184. Golden Image of Bel 93 

always passes the night in the temple of the Theban Jupiter. 1 
In each case the woman is said to be debarred all intercourse 
with men. It is also like the custom of Patara, in Lycia, where 
the priestess who delivers the oracles, during the time that she 
is so employed for at Patara there is not always an oracle, 2 - 
is shut up in the temple every night. 

183. Below, in the same precinct, there is a second temple, in 
which is a sitting figure of Jupiter, all of gold. Before the 
figure stands a large golden table, and the throne whereon it 
sits, and the base on which the throne is placed, are likewise of 
gold. The Chaldseans told me that all the gold together was 
eight hundred talents weight. Outside the temple are two 
altars, one of solid gold, on which it is only lawful to offer suck 
lings; the other a common altar, but of great size, on which the 
full-grown animals are sacrificed. It is also on the great altar 
that the Chaldseans burn the frankincense, which is offered to 
the amount of a thousand talents weight, every year, at the 
festival of the God. In the time of Cyrus there was likewise 
in this temple a figure of a man, twelve cubits high, entirely 
of solid gold. I myself did not see this figure, but I relate 
what the Chaldaeans report concerning it. Darius, the son of 
Hystaspes, plotted to carry the statue off, but had not the 
hardihood to lay his hands upon it. Xerxes, however, the son 
of Darius, killed the priest who forbade him to move the statue, 
and took it away. 3 Besides the ornaments which I have men 
tioned, there are a large number of private offerings in this 
holy precinct. 4 

184. Many sovereigns have ruled over this city of Babylon, 
and lent their aid to the building of its walls and the adornment 
of its temples, of whom I shall make mention in my Assyrian 
history. Among them two were women. Of these, the earlier, 
called Semiramis, held the throne five generations before the 

1 The Theban Jupiter, or god worshipped as the Supreme Being in the 
city of Thebes, was Ammon (Amun). Herodotus says the Theban rather 
than the Egyptian Jupiter, because various gods were worshipped in various 
parts of Egypt as supreme. 

a Patara lay on the shore, a little to the east of the Xanthus. 

* There can be little doubt that this was done by Xerxes after the 
revolt of Babylon. Arrian relates that Xerxes not only plundered but 
destroyed the temple on his return from Greece. 

4 The great temple of Babylon, regarding which the Greeks have left 
so many notices, is beyond all doubt to be identified with the enormous 
mound to which the Arabs universally apply the title of Ddbil. [For later 
information on the subject of this great temple, see Hilprecht, Explora 
tions in Bible Lands, p. 19 sqq. (E.H.B.).] 

94 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

later princess. She raised certain embankments well worthy of 
inspection, in the plain near Babylon, to control the river, 
which, till then, used to overflow, and flood the whole country 
round about. 

185. The later of the two queens, whose name was Nitocris, 
a wiser princess than her predecessor, not only left behind her, 
as memorials of her occupancy of the throne, the works which 
I shall presently describe, but also, observing the great power 
and restless enterprise of the Medes, who had taken so large a 
number of cities, and among them Nineveh, and expecting to be 
attacked in her turn, made all possible exertions to increase the 
defences of her empire. And first, whereas the river Euphrates, 
which traverses the city, ran formerly with a straight course to 
Babylon, she, by certain excavations which she made at some 
distance up the stream, rendered it so winding that it comes 
three several times in sight of the same village, a village in 
Assyria, which is called Ardericca; and to this day, they who 
would go from our sea to Babylon, on descending to the river 
touch three times, and on three different days, at this very 
place. She also made an embankment along each side of the 
Euphrates, wonderful both for breadth and height, and dug a 
basin for a lake a great way above Babylon, close alongside of 
the stream, which was sunk everywhere to the point where they 
came to water, and was of such breadth that the whole circuit 
measured four hundred and twenty furlongs. The soil dug out 
of this basin was made use of in the embankments along the 
waterside. When the excavation was finished, she had stones 
brought, and bordered with them the entire margin of the 
reservoir. These two things were done, the river made to wind, 
and the lake excavated, that the stream might be slacker by 
reason of the number of curves, and the voyage be rendered 
circuitous, and that at the end of the voyage it might be neces 
sary to skirt the lake and so make a long round. All these 
works were on that side of Babylon where the passes lay, and 
the roads into Media were the straightest, and the aim of the 
queen in making them was to prevent the Medes from holding 
intercourse with the Babylonians, and so to keep them in 
ignorance of her affairs. 

1 86. While the soil from the excavation was being thus used 
for the defence of the city, Nitocris engaged also in another 
undertaking, a mere by-work compared with those we have 
already mentioned. The city, as I said, was divided by the river 

CHAP. 185-187. Nitocrls 95 

into two distinct portions. Under the former kings, if a man 
wanted to pass from one of these divisions to the other, he had 
to cross in a boat; which must, it seems to me, have been very 
troublesome. Accordingly, while she was digging the lake, 
Nitocris bethought herself of turning it to a use which should at 
once remove this inconvenience, and enable her to leave another 
monument of her reign over Babylon. She gave orders for the 
hewing of immense blocks of stone, and when they were ready 
and the basin was excavated, she turned the entire stream of 
the Euphrates into the cutting, and thus for a time, while the 
basin was filling, the natural channel of the river was left dry. 
Forthwith she set to work, and in the first place lined the banks 
of the stream within the city with quays of burnt brick, and also 
bricked the landing-places opposite the river-gates, adopting 
throughout the same fashion of brickwork which had been used 
in the town wall; after which, with the materials which had 
been prepared, she built, as near the middle of the town as 
possible, a stone bridge, the blocks whereof were bound together 
with iron and lead. In the daytime square wooden platforms 
were laid along from pier to pier, on which the inhabitants 
crossed the stream; but at night they were withdrawn, to pre 
vent people passing from side to side in the dark to commit 
robberies. When the river had filled the cutting, and the bridge 
was finished, the Euphrates was turned back again into its 
ancient bed; and thus the basin, transformed suddenly into a 
lake, was seen to answer the purpose for which it was made, 
and the inhabitants, by help of the basin, obtained the advantage 
of a bridge. 

187. It was this same princess by whom a remarkable decep 
tion was planned. She had her tomb constructed in the upper 
part of one of the principal gateways of the city, high above 
the heads of the passers by, with this inscription cut upon it: 
" If there be one among my successors on the throne of Babylon 
who is in want of treasure, let him open my tomb, and take as 
much as he chooses, not, however, unless he be truly in want, 
for it will not be for his good." This tomb continued untouched 
until Darius came to the kingdom. To him it seemed a mon 
strous thing that he should be unable to use one of the gates of 
the town, and that a sum of money should be lying idle, and 
moreover inviting his grasp, and he not seize upon it. Now he 
could not use the gate, because, as he drove through, the dead 
body would have been over his head. Accordingly he opened 

96 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

the tomb; but instead of money, found only the dead body, 
and a writing which said " Hadst thou not been insatiate of 
pelf, and careless how thou gottest it, thou wouldst not have 
broken open the sepulchres of the dead." 

188. The expedition of Cyrus was undertaken against the son 
of this princess, who bore the same name as his father Labynetus, 
and was king of the Assyrians. The Great King, when he goes 
to the wars, is always supplied with provisions carefully prepared 
at home, and with cattle of his own. Water too from the river 
Choaspes, which flows by Susa, is taken with him for his drink, 
as that is the only water which the kings of Persia taste. 1 Wher 
ever he travels, he is attended by a number of four-wheeled cars 
drawn by mules, in which the Choaspes water, ready boiled for 
use, and stored in flagons of silver, is moved with him from place 
to place. 

189. Cyrus on his way to Babylon came to the banks of the 
Gyndes, 2 a stream which, rising in the Matienian mountains, 
runs through the country of the Dardanians, arid empties 
itself into the river Tigris. The Tigris, after receiving the 
Gyndes, flows on by the city of Opis, and discharges its waters 
into the Erythraean sea. When Cyrus reached this stream, 
which could only be passed in boats, one of the sacred white 
horses accompanying his march, full of spirit and high mettle, 
walked into the water, and tried to cross by himself; but the 
current seized him, swept him along with it, and drowned him 
in its depths. Cyrus, enraged at the insolence of the river, 
threatened so to break its strength that in future even women 
should cross it easily without wetting their knees. Accordingly 
he put off for a time his attack on Babylon, and, dividing his 
army into two parts, he marked out by ropes one hundred and 
eighty trenches on each side of the Gyndes, leading off from it 
in all directions, and setting his army to dig, some on one side 
of the river, some on the other, he accomplished his threat by 
the aid of so great a number of hands, but not without losing 
thereby the whole summer season. 

190. Having, however, thus wreaked his vengeance on the 
Gyndes, by dispersing it through three hundred and sixty 
channels, Cyrus, with the first approach of the ensuing spring, 
marched forward against Babylon. The Babylonians, encamped 
without their walls, awaited his coming. A battle was fought 

1 This statement of Herodotus is echoed by various writers. 
The Gyndes is undoubtedly the Diydlah. 

CHAP. 188-192. Babylon Taken 97 

at a short distance from the city, in which the Babylonians were 
defeated by the Persian king, whereupon they withdrew within 
their defences. Here they shut themselves up, and made light 
of his siege, having laid in a store of provisions for many years 
in preparation against this attack; for then they saw Cyrus 
conquering nation after nation, they were convinced that he 
would never stop, and that their turn would come at last. 

191. Cyrus was now reduced to great perplexity, as time went 
on and he made no progress against the place. In this distress 
either some one made the suggestion to him, or he bethought 
himself of a plan, which he proceeded to put in execution. He 
placed a portion of his army at the point where the river enters 
the city, and another body at the back of the place where it 
issues forth, with orders to march into the town by the bed of 
the stream, as soon as the water became shallow enough: he 
then himself drew off with the unwarlike portion of his host, and 
made for the place where Nitocris dug the basin for the river, 
where he did exactly what she had done formerly: he turned 
the Euphrates by a canal into the basin, which was then a marsh, 
on which the river sank to such an extent that the natural bed 
of the stream became fordable. Hereupon the Persians who had 
been left for the purpose at Babylon by the river-side, entered 
the stream, which had now sunk so as to reach about midway 
up a man s thigh, and thus got into the town. Had the Baby 
lonians been apprised of what Cyrus was about, or had they 
noticed their danger, they would never have allowed the Persians 
to enter the city, but would have destroyed them utterly; for 
they would have made fast all the street-gates which gave upon 
the river, and mounting upon the walls along both sides of the 
stream, would so have caught the enemy as it were in a trap. 
But, as it was, the Persians came upon them by surprise and so 
took the city. Owing to the vast size of the place, the inhabi 
tants of the central parts (as the residents at Babylon declare) 
long after the outer portions of the town were taken, knew 
nothing of what had chanced, but as they were engaged in a 
festival, continued dancing and revelling until they learnt the 
capture but too certainly. Such, then, were the circumstances 
of the first taking of Babylon. 1 

192. Among many proofs which I shall bring forward of the 

1 Herodotus intends to contrast this first capture with the second capture 
by Darius Hystaspes of which he speaks in the latter portion of the third 

98 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

power and resources of the Babylonians, the following is of 
special account. The whole country under the dominion of the 
Persians, besides paying a fixed tribute, is parcelled out into 
divisions, which have to supply food to the Great King and his 
army during different portions of the year. Now out of the 
twelve months which go to a year, the district of Babylon 
furnishes food during four, the other regions of Asia during 
eight; by which it appears that Assyria, in respect of resources, 
is one-third of the whole of Asia. Of all the Persian govern 
ments, or satrapies as they are called by the natives, this is by 
far the best. When Tritantsechmes, son of Artabazus, 1 held it 
of the king, it brought him in an artaba of silver every day. 
The artaba is a Persian measure, 2 and holds three chcenixes more 
than the medimnus of the Athenians. He also had, belonging 
to his own private stud, besides war-horses, eight hundred 
stallions and sixteen thousand mares, twenty to each stallion. 
Besides which he kept so great a number of Indian hounds, 3 
that four large villages of the plain were exempted from all 
other charges on condition of finding them in food. 

193. But little rain falls in Assyria,* enough, however, to 
make the corn begin to sprout, after which the plant is nourished 
and the ears formed by means of irrigation from the river. 5 
For the river does not, as in Egypt, overflow the corn-lands of 
its own accord, but is spread over them by the hand, or by the 
help of engines. 6 The whole of Babylonia is, like Egypt, inter- 

1 The name of Tritantaechmes is of considerable interest, because it points 
to the Vedic traditions which the Persians brought with them from the 
Indus, and of the currency of which in the time of Xerxes we have thus 
distinct evidence. The name means " strong as Tritan " this title, 
which etymologically means " three-bodied," being the Sanscrit and 
Zend form of the famous Feridun of Persian romance, who divided the 
world between his three sons, Selm, Tur, and Erij. 

2 This is the same name as the ardeb of modern Egypt, and, like the 
medimnus, is a corn measure. The ardeb is nearly five English bushels. 

3 Models of favourite dogs are frequently found in excavating the cities 
of Babylonia. Some may be seen in the British Museum. 

* Rain is very rare in Babylonia during the summer months, and pro 
ductiveness depends entirely on irrigation. During the spring there are 
constant showers, and at other times of the year rain falls frequently, but 
irregularly, and never in great quantities. The heaviest is in December. 
In. ancient times, when irrigation was carried to a far greater extent than 
it is at present, the meteorology of the country may probably have been 

* At the present day it is not usual to trust even the first sprouting of 
the corn to nature. The lands are laid under water for a few days before 
the com is sown; the water is then withdrawn, and the seed scattered 
upon the moistened soil. 

* The engine intended by Herodotus seems to have been the common 

CHAP. 193-194. Babylonia 99 

sected with canals. The largest of them all, which runs towards 
the winter sun, and is impassable except in boats, is carried 
from the Euphrates into another stream, called the Tigris, the 
river upon which the town of Nineveh formerly stood. Of all 
the countries that we know there is none which is so fruitful in 
grain. It makes no pretension indeed of growing the fig, the 
olive, the vine, or any other tree of the kind ; but in grain it is 
so fruitful as to yield commonly two-hundred-fold, and when 
the production is the greatest, even three-hundred-fold. The 
blade of the wheat-plant and barley-plant is often four fingers in 
breadth. As for the millet and the sesame, I shall not say to 
what height they grow, though within my own knowledge; for 
I am not ignorant that what I have already written concerning 
the fruitfulness of Babylonia must seem incredible to those who 
have never visited the country. 1 The only oil they use is made 
from the sesame-plant. 2 Palm-trees grow in great numbers over 
the whole of the flat country, 8 mostly of the kind which bears 
fruit, and this fruit supplies them with bread, wine, and honey. 
They are cultivated like the fig-tree in all respects, among others 
in this. The natives tie the fruit of the male-palms, as they are 
called by the Greeks, to the branches of the date-bearing palm, 
to let the gall-fly enter the dates and ripen them, and to prevent 
the fruit from falling off. The male-palms, like the wild fig- 
trees, have usually the gall-fly in their fruit. 

194. But that which surprises me most in the land, after the 
city itself, I will now proceed to mention. The boats which 
come down the river to Babylon are circular, and made of 
skins. The frames, which are of willow, are cut in the country 
of the Armenians above Assyria, and on these, which serve for 
hulls, a covering of skins is stretched outside, and thus the 
boats are made, without either stem or stern, quite round like 
a shield. They are then entirely filled with straw, and their 

hand-swipe, to which alone the name of Kti\wijCQv would properly apply. 
The ordinary method of irrigation at the present day is by the help of 
oxen, which draw the water from the river to the top of the bank by means 
of ropes passed over a roller working between two upright posts. 

The fertility of Babylonia is celebrated by a number of ancient writers. 

* This is still the case with respect to the people of the plains. The 
olive is cultivated on the flanks of Mount Zagros, but Babylonia did not 
extend so far. 

8 There is reason to believe that anciently the country was very much 
more thickly wooded than it is at present. The palm will grow wherever 
water is brought. In ancient times the whole country between the rivers, 
and the greater portion of the tract intervening between the Tigris and the 
mountains, was artificially irrigated. 

i oo The History of Herodotus BOOR L 

cargo is put on board, after which they are suffered to float 
down the stream. Their chief freight is wine, stored in casks 
made of the wood of the palm-tree. They are managed by two 
men who stand upright in them, each plying an oar, one pulling 
and the other pushing. 1 The boats are of various sizes, some 
larger, some smaller; the biggest reach as high as five thousand 
talents burthen. Each vessel has a live ass on board ; those of 
larger size have more than one. When they reach Babylon, the 
cargo is landed and offered for sale ; after which the men break 
up their boats, sell the straw and the frames, and loading their 
asses with the skins, set off on their way back to Armenia. 
The current is too strong to allow a boat to return up-stream, 
for which reason they make their boats of skins rather than 
wood. On their return to Armenia they build fresh boats for 
the next voyage. 

195. The dress of the Babylonians is a linen tunic reaching to 
the feet, and above it another tunic made in wool, besides which 
they have a short white cloak thrown round them, and shoes of 
a peculiar fashion, not unlike those worn by the Boeotians. 
They have long hair, wear turbans on their heads, and anoint 
their whole body with perfumes. 2 Every one carries a seal, 8 
and a walking-stick, carved at the top into the form of an 
apple, a rose, a lily, an eagle, or something similar; 4 for it is 
not their habit to use a stick without an ornament. 

196. Of their customs, whereof I shall now proceed to give an 
account, the following (which I understand belongs to them in 
common with the Illyrian tribe of the Eneti 5 ) is the wisest in 
my judgment. Once a year in each village the maidens of age 

1 Boats of this kind, closely resembling coracles, are represented in the 
Nineveh sculptures, and still ply on the Euphrates. 

3 The dress of the Babylonians appears on the cylinders to be a species 
of flounced robe, reaching from their neck to their feet. In some repre 
sentations there is an appearance of a division into two garments; the 
upper one being a sort of short jacket or tippet, flounced like the under- 
robe or petticoat. The long hair of the Babylonians is very conspicuous 
on the cylinders. It either depends in lengthy tresses which fall over the 
back and shoulders, or is gathered into what seems a club behind. There 
are several varieties of head-dress; the most usual are a low cap or turban, 
from which two curved horns branch out, and a high crown or mitre, the 
appearance of which is very remarkable. 

3 The Babylonian cylinders are undoubtedly the " seals " of Herodotus. 
Many impressions of them have been found upon clay-tablets. 

4 Upon the cylinders the Babylonians are frequently, but not invariably, 
represented with sticks. In the Assyrian sculptures the officers of the 
court have always sticks, used apparently as staves of office. 

* The Eneti or Heneti are the same with the Venetians of later times 
(Liv. i. x). 

CHAP. 195-197. Babylonian Customs jtoi 

to marry were collected all together into one place; while the 
men stood round them in a circle. Then a herald called up 
the damsels one by one, and offered them for sale. He began 
with the most beautiful. When she was sold for no small sum 
of money, he offered for sale the one who came next to her in 
beauty. All of them were sold to be wives. The richest of the 
Babylonians who wished to wed bid against each other for the 
loveliest maidens, while the humbler wife-seekers, who were in 
different about beauty, took the more homely damsels with 
marriage-portions. For the custom was that when the herald 
had gone through the whole number of the beautiful damsels, 
he should then call up the ugliest a cripple, if there chanced 
to be one and offer her to the men, asking who would agree 
to take her with the smallest marriage-portion. And the man 
who offered to take the smallest sum had her assigned to him. 
The marriage-portions were furnished by the money paid for 
the beautiful damsels, and thus the fairer maidens portioned 
out the uglier. No one was allowed to give his daughter in 
marriage to the man of his choice, nor might any one carry away 
the damsel whom he had purchased without finding bail really 
and truly to make her his wife; if, however, it turned out that 
they did not agree, the money might be paid back. All who 
liked might come even from distant villages and bid for the 
women. This was the best of all their customs, but it has now 
fallen into disuse. 1 They have lately hit upon a very different 
plan to save their maidens from violence, and prevent their 
being torn from them and carried to distant cities, which is to 
bring up their daughters to be courtesans. This is now done by 
all the poorer of the common people, who since the conquest 
have been maltreated by their lords, and have had ruin brought 
upon their families. 

197. The following custom seems to me the wisest of their 
institutions next to the one lately praised. They have no physi 
cians, but when a man is ill, they lay him in the public square, 
and the passers-by come up to him, and if they have ever had 
his disease themselves or have known any one who has suffered 
from it, they give him advice, recommending him to do what 
ever they found good in their own case, or in the case known 
to them; and no one is allowed to pass the sick man in silence 
without asking him what his ailment is. 

1 Writers of the Augustan age mention this custom aa still existing in 
their day. 

IO2 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

198. They bury their dead in honey, 1 and have funeral lamen 
tations like the Egyptians. When a Babylonian has consorted 
with his wife, he sits down before a censer of burning incense, 
and the woman sits opposite to him. At dawn of day they 
wash; for till they are washed they will not touch any of their 
common vessels. This practice is observed also by the Arabians. 

199. The Babylonians have one most shameful custom* 
Every woman born in the country must once in her life go and 
sit down in the precinct of Venus, and there consort with a 
stranger. Many of the wealthier sort, who are too proud to 
mix with the others, drive in covered carriages to the precinct, 
followed by a goodly train of attendants, and there take their 
station. But the larger number seat themselves within the 
holy enclosure with wreaths of string about their heads, and 
here there is always a great crowd, some coming and others 
going; lines of cord mark out paths in all directions among the 
women, and the strangers pass along them to make their choice. 
A woman who has once taken her seat is not allowed to return 
home till one of the strangers throws a silver coin into her lap, 
and takes her with him beyond the holy ground. When he 
throws the coin he says these words " The goddess Mylitta 
prosper thee." (Venus is called Mylitta by the Assyrians.) 
The silver coin may be of any size; it cannot be refused, for 
that is forbidden by the law, since once thrown it is sacred. 
The woman goes with the first man who throws her money, and 
rejects no one. When she has gone with him, and so satisfied 
the goddess, she returns home, and from that time forth no 
gift however great will prevail with her. Such of the women 
as are tall and beautiful are soon released, but others who are 
ugly have to stay a long time before they can fulfil the law. 
Some have waited three or four years in the precinct. 2 A 
custom very much like this is found also in certain parts of 
the island of Cyprus. 

200. Such are the customs of the Babylonians generally. 
There are likewise three tribes among them who eat nothing 
but fish. These are caught and dried in the sun, after which 
they are brayed in a mortar, and strained through a linen sieve. 

1 Modern researches show two modes of burial to have prevailed in 
ancient Babylonia. Ordinarily the bodies seem to have been compressed 
into urns and baked, or burnt. Thousands of funeral urns are found on 
the sites of the ancient cities. Coffins are also found, but rarely. 

2 This unhallowed custom is mentioned among the abominations of the 
religion of the Babylonians in the book of Baruch (vi. 43). 

CHAP. 198-203. The River Araxes 103 

Some prefer to make cakes of this material, while others bake 
it into a kind of bread. 

201. When Cyrus had achieved the conquest of the Baby 
lonians, he conceived the desire of bringing the Massagetae under 
his dominion. Now the Massagetse are said to be a great and 
warlike nation, dwelling eastward, toward the rising of the sun, 
beyond the river Araxes, and opposite the Issedonians. By 
many they are regarded as a Scythian race. 

202. As for the Araxes, it is, according to some accounts, 
larger, according to others smaller than the Ister (Danube). It 
has islands in it, many of which are said to be equal in size to 
Lesbos. The men who inhabit them feed during the summer 
on roots of all kinds, which they dig out of the ground, while 
they store up the fruits, which they gather from the trees at 
the fitting season, to serve them as food in the winter-time. 
Besides the trees whose fruit they gather for this purpose, they 
have also a tree which bears the strangest produce. When 
they are met together in companies they throw some of it upon 
the fire round which they are sitting, and presently, by the 
mere smell of the fumes which it gives out in burning, they 
grow drunk, as the Greeks do with wine. More of the fruit is 
then thrown on the fire, and, their drunkenness increasing, they 
often jump up and begin to dance and sing. Such is the 
account which I have heard of this people. 

The river Araxes, like the Gyndes, which Cyrus dispersed 
into three hundred and sixty channels, has its source in the 
country of the Matienians. It has forty mouths, whereof all, 
except one, end in bogs and swamps. These bogs and swamps 
are said to be inhabited by a race of men who feed on raw fish, 
and clothe themselves with the skins of seals. The other mouth 
of the river flows with a clear course into the Caspian Sea. 1 

203. The Caspian is a sea by itself, having no connection with 
any other. 2 The sea frequented by the Greeks, that beyond 
the Pillars of Hercules, which is called the Atlantic, and also 
the Erythraean, are all one and the same sea. But the Caspian 
is a distinct sea, lying by itself, in length fifteen days voyage 
with a row-boat, in breadth, at the broadest part, eight days 

1 The geographical knowledge of Herodotus seems to be nowhere so 
much at fault as in his account of this river. He appears to have confused 
together the information which had reached him concerning two or three 
distinct streams. 

2 Here the geographical knowledge of Herodotus was much in advance 
of hi* age. 

IO4 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

voyage. Along its western shore runs the chain of the Cau 
casus, the most extensive and loftiest of all mountain-ranges. 1 
Many and various are the tribes by which it is inhabited, most 
of whom live entirely on the wild fruits of the forest. In these 
forests certain trees are said to grow, from the leaves of which, 
pounded and mixed with water, the inhabitants make a dye, 
wherewith they paint upon their clothes the figures of animals; 
and the figures so impressed never wash out, but last as though 
they had been inwoven in the cloth from the first, and wear as 
long as the garment. 

204. On the west then, as I have said, the Caspian Sea is 
bounded by the range of Caucasus. On the east it is followed 
by a vast plain, stretching out interminably before the eye, 2 
the greater portion of which is possessed by those Massagetae, 
against whom Cyrus was now so anxious to make an expedition. 
Many strong motives weighed with him and urged him on his 
birth especially, which seemed something more than human, 
and his good fortune in all his former wars, wherein he had 
always found, that against what country soever he turned his 
arms, it was impossible for that people to escape. 

205. At this time the Massage tae were ruled by a queen, 
named Tomyris, who at the death of her husband, the late king, 
had mounted the throne. To her Cyrus sent ambassadors, with 
instructions to court her on his part, pretending that he wished 
to take her to wife. Tomyris, however, aware that it was her 
kingdom, and not herself, that he courted, forbade the men to 
approach. Cyrus, therefore, finding that he did not advance 
his designs by this deceit, marched towards the Araxes, and 
openly displaying his hostile intentions, set to work to construct 
a bridge on which his army might cross the river, and began 
building towers upon the boats which were to be used in the 

206. While the Persian leader was occupied in these labours, 
Tomyris sent a herald to him, who said, " King of the Medes, 
cease to press this enterprise, for thou canst not know if what 
thou art doing will be of real advantage to thee. Be content 
to rule in peace thy own kingdom, and bear to see us reign over 
the countries that are ours to govern. As, however, I know 

1 This was true within the limits of our author s geographical knowledge. 
Peaks in the Caucasus attain the height of over 17,000 feet. 

2 The deserts of Kharesm, Kizilkoum, etc., the most southern portion 
of the Steppe region. 

CHAP. 204-207. Tomyris and Cyrus 105 

thou wilt not choose to hearken to this counsel, since there is 
nothing thou less desirest than peace and quietness, come now, 
if thou art so mightily desirous of meeting the Massagetae in 
arms, leave thy useless toil of bridge-making ; let us retire three 
days march from the river bank, and do thou come across with 
thy soldiers; or, if thou likest better to give us battle on thy 
side the stream, retire thyself an equal distance." Cyrus, on 
this offer, called together the chiefs of the Persians, and laid 
the matter before them, requesting them to advise him what he 
should do. All the votes were in favour of his letting Tomyris 
cross the stream, and giving battle on Persian ground. 

207. But Croesus the Lydian, who was present at the meeting 
of the chiefs, disapproved of this advice ; he therefore rose, and 
thus delivered his sentiments in opposition to it: "Oh! my 
king! I promised thee long since, that, as Jove had given me 
into thy hands, I would, to the best of my power, avert im 
pending danger from thy house. Alas! my own sufferings, by 
their very bitterness, have taught me to be keen-sighted of 
dangers. If thou deemest thyself an immortal, and thine army 
an army of immortals, my counsel will doubtless be thrown 
away upon thee. But if thou feelest thyself to be a man, and 
a ruler of men, lay this first to heart, that there is a wheel on 
which the affairs of men revolve, and that its movement forbids 
the same man to be always fortunate. Now concerning the 
matter in hand, my judgment runs counter to the judgment of 
thy other counsellors. For if thou agreest to give the enemy 
entrance into thy country, consider what risk is run ! Lose the 
battle, and therewith thy whole kingdom is lost. For assuredly, 
the Massagetse, if they win the fight, will not return to their 
homes, but will push forward against the states of thy empire. 
Or if thou gainest the battle, why, then thou gainest far less 
than if thou wert across the stream, where thou mightest follow 
up thy victory. For against thy loss, if they defeat thee on 
thine own ground, must be set theirs in like case. Rout their 
army on the other side of the river, and thou mayest push at 
once into the heart of their country. Moreover, were it not 
disgrace intolerable for Cyrus the son of Cambyses to retire 
before and yield ground to a woman? My counsel therefore is, 
that we cross the stream, and pushing forward as far as they 
shall fall back, then seek to get the better of them by stratagem. 
I am told they are unacquainted with the good things on which 
the Persians live, and have never tasted the great delights of 

io6 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

life. Let us then prepare a feast for them in our camp; let 
sheep be slaughtered without stint, and the winecups be filled 
full of noble liquor, and let all manner of dishes be prepared: 
then leaving behind us our worst troops, let us fall back towards 
the river. Unless I very much mistake, when they see the 
good fare set out, they will forget all else and fall to. Then it 
will remain for us to do our parts manfully." 

208. Cyrus, when the two plans were thus placed in contrast 
before him, changed his mind, and preferring the advice which 
Croesus had given, returned for answer to Tomyris, that she 
should retire, and that he would cross the stream. She there 
fore retired, as she had engaged; and Cyrus, giving Croesus 
into the care of his son Cambyses (whom he had appointed to 
succeed him on the throne), with strict charge to pay him all 
respect and treat him well, if the expedition failed of success; 
and sending them both back to Persia, crossed the river with 
his army, 

209. The first night after the passage, as he slept in the 
enemy s country, a vision appeared to him. He seemed to see 
in his sleep the eldest of the sons of Hystaspes, with wings upon 
his shoulders, shadowing with the one wing Asia, and Europe 
with the other. Now Hystaspes, the son of Arsames, was of 
the race of the Achsemenidae, 1 and his eldest son, Darius, was 
at that time scarce twenty years old; wherefore, not being of 
age to go to the wars, he had remained behind in Persia. When 
Cyrus woke from his sleep, and turned the vision over in his 
mind, it seemed to him no light matter. He therefore sent for 
Hystaspes, and taking him aside said, c Hystaspes, thy son is 
discovered to be plotting against me and my crown. I will tell 
thee how I know it so certainly. The gods watch over my 
safety, and warn me beforehand of every danger. Now last 
night, as I lay in my bed, I saw in a vision the eldest of thy 
sons with wings upon his shoulders, shadowing with the one 
wing Asia, and Europe with the other. From this it is certain, 
beyond all possible doubt, that he is engaged in some plot 
against me. Return thou then at once to Persia, and be sure, 
when I come back from conquering the Massagetse, to have thy 
son ready to produce before me, that I may examine him." 

1 It may be observed here that the inscriptions confirm Herodotus thus 
far. Darius was son of Hystaspes (Vashtaspa) and grandson of Arsames 
(Arshama). He traced his descent through four ancestors to Achaemenes 

CHAP. 208-213. Persian Stratagem 1 07 

i Thus Cyrus spoke, in the belief that he was plotted 
against by Darius; but he missed the true meaning of the 
dream, which was sent by God to forewarn him, that he was 
to die then and there, and that his kingdom was to fall at last 
to Darius. 

Hystaspes made answer to Cyrus in these words: " Heaven 
forbid, sire, that there should be a Persian living who would 
plot against thee! If such an one there be, may a speedy 
death overtake him I Thou foundest the Persians a race of 
slaves, thou hast made them free men: thou foundest them 
subject to others, thou hast made them lords of all. If a 
vision has announced that my son is practising against thee, 
lo, I resign him into thy hands to deal with as thou wilt." 
Hystaspes, when he had thus answered, recrossed the Araxes 
and hastened back to Persia, to keep a watch on his son Darius. 

211. Meanwhile Cyrus, having advanced a day s march from 
the river, did as Croesus had advised him, and, leaving the 
worthless portion of his army in the camp, drew off with his 
good troops towards the river. Soon afterwards, a detachment 
of the Massagetse, one-third of their entire army, led by Spar- 
gapises, son of the queen Tomyris, coming up, fell upon the 
body which had been left behind by Cyrus, and on their resist 
ance put them to the sword. Then, seeing the banquet pre 
pared, they sat down and began to feast. When they had 
eaten and drunk their fill, and were now sunk in sleep, the 
Persians under Cyrus arrived, slaughtered a great multitude, 
and made even a larger number prisoners. Among these last 
was Spargapises himself. 

212. When Tomyris heard what had befallen her son and 
her army, she sent a herald to Cyrus, who thus addressed the 
conqueror: " Thou bloodthirsty Cyrus, pride not thyself on 
this poor success: it was the grape-juice which, when ye drink 
it, makes you so mad, and as ye swallow it down brings up to 
your lips such bold and wicked words it was this poison 
wherewith thou didst ensnare my child, and so overcamest him, 
not in fair open fight. Now hearken what I advise, and be 
sure I advise thee for thy good. Restore my son to me and 
get thee from the land unharmed, triumphant over a third part 
of the host of the Massagetae. Refuse, and I swear by the sun, 
the sovereign lord of the Massagetse, bloodthirsty as thou art, 
: I will give thee thy fill of blood." 

213. To the words of this message Cyrus paid no manner of 

io8 The History of Herodotus BOOK i. 

regard. As for Spargapises, the son of the queen, when the 
wine went off, and he saw the extent of his calamity, he made 
request to Cyrus to release him from his bonds; then, when 
his prayer was granted, and the fetters were taken from his 
limbs, as soon as his hands were free, he destroyed himself. 

214. Tomyris, when she found that Cyrus paid no heed to 
her advice, collected all the forces of her kingdom, and gave 
him battle. Of all the combats in which the barbarians have 
engaged among themselves, I reckon this to have been the 
fiercest. The following, as I understand, was the manner of 
it: First, the two armies stood apart and shot their arrows at 
each other; then, when their quivers were empty, they closed 
and fought hand-to-hand with lances and daggers; and thus 
they continued fighting for a length of time, neither choosing 
to give ground. At length the Massagetae prevailed. The 
greater part of the army of the Persians was destroyed and 
Cyrus himself fell, after reigning nine and twenty years. Search 
was made among the slain by order of the queen for the body 
of Cyrus, and when it was found she took a skin, and, filling it 
full of human blood, she dipped the head of Cyrus in the gore, 
saying, as she thus insulted the corse, " I live and have con 
quered thee in fight, and yet by thee am I ruined, for thou 
tookest my son with guile; but thus I make good my threat, 
and give thee thy fill of blood." Of the many different accounts 
which are given of the death of Cyrus, this which I have fol 
lowed appears to me most worthy of credit. 1 

215. In their dress and mode of living the Massagetae resemble 
the Scythians. They fight both on horseback and on foot, 
neither method is strange to them: they use bows and lances, 
but their favourite weapon is the battle-axe. 2 Their arms are 
all either of gold or brass. For their spear-points, and arrow 
heads, and for their battle-axes, they make use of brass; for 

1 It may be questioned whether the account, which out of many seemed 
to our author most worthy of credit, was ever really the most credible. 
Unwittingly Herodotus was drawn towards the most romantic and poetic 
version of each story, and what he admired most seemed to him the likeliest 
to be true. According to Xenophon, Cyrus died peacefully in his bed 
(Cyrop. viii. vii.) ; according to Ctesias, he was severely wounded in a 
battle which he fought with the Derbices, and died in camp of his wounds. 
Of these two authors, Ctesias, perhaps, is the less untrustworthy. On his 
authority, conjoined with that of Herodotus, it may be considered certain, 
i. That Cyrus died a violent death; and 2. That he received his death- 
wound in fight; but against what enemy must continue a doubtful point. 

8 The (rdyapis is in all probability the khanjar of modern Persia, a short, 
curved, double-edged dagger, almost universally worn. 

CHAP 214-216, Customs of Massagetag 109 

head-gear, belts, and girdles, of gold< So too with the caparison 
of their horses, they give them breastplates of brass, but employ 
gold about the reins, the bit, and the cheek-plates. They use 
neither iron nor silver, having none in their country; but they 
have brass arid gold in abundance. 1 

216. The following are some of their customs; Each man 
has but one wife, yet all the wives are held in common; for 
this is a custom of the Massagetae and not of the Scythians, as 
the Greeks wrongly say. Human life does not come to its 
natural close with this people; but when a man grows very old, 
all his kinsfolk collect together and offer him up in sacrifice; 
offering at the same time some cattle also. After the sacrifice 
they boil the flesh and feast on it; and those who thus end 
their days are reckoned the happiest. If a man dies of disease 
they do not eat him, but bury him in the ground, bewailing his 
ill-fortune that he did not come to be sacrificed. They sow no 
grain, but live on their herds, and on fish, of which there is 
great plenty in the Araxes. Milk is what they chiefly drink. 
The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the 
horse in sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of 
the gods the swiftest of all mortal creatures. 2 

1 Both the Ural and the Altai mountains abound in gold. The richness 
of these regions in this metal is indicated (book iv. ch. 27) by the stories 
of the gold- guarding Grypes, and the Arimaspi who plunder them (book 
iii. ch. 116). 

8 Horse sacrifices are said to prevail among the modern Parsees. 


For nearly 2000 years Babylon was the centre of the world s civilisation. 
Her script and her language were known in Egypt, and on the shores of 
the Mediterranean, and were the universal medium of communication 
between educated men. She was the bank and emporium of the East; 
and in the age of her splendour, with her daughter states about her, 
dominated the thoughts of mankind. What Rome has been, and London 
is, that Babylon was " the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chal- 
dseans pride " (Isaiah xiii. 7). Her ruins are still wonderful; but she has 
left us spiritual ruins too, and these are yet more strange. The debt of 
ancient Israel to Babylon was immense. The code of Khammurabi 
(circ. B.C. 2200) may well have influenced the Mosaic code; the angelology 
of later Jewish Scriptures was Babylonian in origin; the legends of 
Creation, the Fall, and the Deluge, are of Babylonian ancestry. Little 
wonder if, when the end came, and she fell, a cry went through the earth 
that had once feared her power, her pride, her universal empire 
" Babylon is fallen, is fallen! " (Isaiah xxi. 9), 


i. ON the death of Cyrus, Cambyses his son by Cassandan6 
daughter of Pharnaspes took the kingdom. Cassandane" had 
died in the lifetime of Cyrus, who had made a great mourning 
for her at her death, and had commanded all the subjects of his 
empire to observe the like. Cambyses, the son of this lady and 
of Cyrus, regarding the Ionian and ^Eolian Greeks as vassals of 
his father, took them with him in his expedition against Egypt l 
among the other nations which owned his sway. 

2. Now the Egyptians, before the reign of their king Psam- 
metichus, believed themselves to be the most ancient of man 
kind. 2 Since Psammetichus, however, made an attempt to 
discover who were actually the primitive race, they have been of 
opinion that while they surpass all other nations, the Phrygians 
surpass them in antiquity. This king, finding it impossible to 
make out by dint of inquiry what men were the most ancient, 
contrived the following method of discovery: He took two 
children of the common sort, and gave them over to a herds 
man to bring up at his folds, strictly charging him to let no one 
utter a word in their presence, but to keep them in a seques 
tered cottage, and from time to time introduce goats to their 
apartment, see that they got their fill of milk, and in all other 
respects look after them. His object herein was to know, after 
the indistinct babblings of infancy were over, what word they 
would first articulate. It happened as he had anticipated. 
The herdsman obeyed his orders for two years, and at the end 
of that time, on his one day opening the door of their room 
and going in, the children both ran up to him with outstretched 
arms, and distinctly said " Becos." When this first happened 
the herdsman took no notice ; but afterwards when he observed, 
on coming often to see after them, that the word was constantly 

1 The date of the expedition of Cambyses against Egypt cannot be fixec 
with absolute certainty. B.C. 525, which is the date ordinarily received 
is, on the whole, the most probable. 

2 This affectation of extreme antiquity is strongly put by Plato in hi; 
TimaBus (p. 22. B), where the Greek nation is taxed by the Egyptians wit! 
being in its infancy as compared with them. The Egyptian claims to 
a high relative antiquity had, no doubt, a solid basis of truth. 


CHAP. 1-4. Egyptian Discoveries in 

in their mouths, he informed his lord, and by his command 
brought the children into his presence. Psammetichus then 
himself heard them say the word, upon which he proceeded 
to make inquiry what people there was who called anything 
" becos," and hereupon he learnt that " becos was the 
Phrygian name for bread. In consideration of this circum 
stance the Egyptians yielded their claims, and admitted the 
greater antiquity of the Phrygians. 

3. That these were the real facts I learnt at Memphis from 
the priests of Vulcan. The Greeks, among other foolish tales, 
relate that Psammetichus had the children brought up by 
women whose tongues he had previously cut out; but the 
priests said their bringing up was such as I have stated above. 
I got much other information also from conversation with these 
priests while I was at Memphis, and I even went to Heliopolis 
and to Thebes, 1 expressly to try whether the priests of those 
places would agree in their accounts with the priests at Memphis. 
The Heliopolitans have the reputation of being the best skilled 
in history of all the Egyptians. 2 What they told me concern 
ing their religion it is not my intention to repeat, except the 
names of their deities, which I believe all men know equally, 
If I relate anything else concerning these matters, it will only 
be when compelled to do so by the course of my narrative. 8 

4. Now with regard to mere human matters, the accounts 
which they gave, and in which all agreed, were the following. 
The Egyptians, they said, were the first to discover the solar 
year, and to portion out its course into twelve parts. They 
obtained this knowledge from the stars. (To my mind they 
contrive their year much more cleverly than the Greeks, for 
these last every other year intercalate a whole month, 4 but the 
Egyptians, dividing the year into twelve months of thirty days 
each, add every year a space of five days besides, whereby the 

The name of Thebes is almost always written in the plural by the 
Greeks and Romans 9??/3cu, Thebae but Pliny writes, " Thebe portarum 
centum nobilis fama." [This splendid city was for centuries the capital 
of Egypt. It was sacked by Asurbanipal (Sardanapalus) B.C. 663. Re- 
fererd to in O. T. (Nahum iii. 8) as No-Amon. E. H. B.] 

8 Heliopolis (" City of the Sun ") was the great seat of learning, and the 
university of Egypt. 

1 For instances of the reserve which Herodotus here promises, see 
chapters 45, 46, 47, 48, 61, 62, 65, 81, 132, 170, and 171. The secrecy in 
matters of religion, which was no doubt enjoined upon Herodotus by the 
Egyptian priests, did not seem strange to a Greek, who was accustomed 
to it in the " mysteries " of his own countrymen, 

4 Vide supra, i. 32, and note ad loc. 


1 1 2 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

circuit of the seasons is made to return with uniformity. 1 ) The 
Egyptians, they went on to affirm, first brought into use the 
names of the twelve gods, which the Greeks adopted from 
them ; and first erected altars, images, and temples to the gods ; 
and also first engraved upon stone the figures of animals. In 
most of these cases they proved to me that what they said was 
true. And they told me that the first man 2 who ruled over 
Egypt was Men, and that in his time all Egypt, except the 
Thebaic canton, was a marsh, 3 none of the land below lake 
Mceris then showing itself above the surface of the water. This 
is a distance of seven days sail from the sea up the river. 

5. What they said of their country seemed to me very reason 
able. For any one who sees Egypt, without having heard a 
word about it before, must perceive, if he has only common 
powers of observation, that the Egypt to which the Greeks go 
in their ships is an acquired country, the gift of the river. 4 
The same is true of the land above the lake, to the distance 
of three days voyage, concerning which the Egyptians say 
nothing, but which is exactly the same kind of country. 

The following is the general character of the region. In the 
first place, on approaching it by sea, when you are still a day s 
sail from the land, if you let down a sounding-line you will bring 
up mud, and find yourself in eleven fathoms water, which shows 
that the soil washed down by the stream extends to that distance. 

6. The length of the country along shore, accoi-ding to the 
bounds that we assign to Egypt, namely from the PiinthinStic 
gulf 6 to lake Serbonis, which extends along the base of Mount 
Casius, is sixty schcenes. 6 The nations whose territories are 

1 This at once proves they intercalated the quarter day, making their 
year to consist of 365^ days, without which the seasons could not return 
to the same periods. The fact of Herodotus not understanding their 
method of intercalation does not argue that the Egyptians were ignorant 
of it. 

2 According to the chronological tables of the Egyptians the gods were 
represented to have reigned first, and after them Menes; and the same 
is found recorded in the Turin Papyrus of Kings, as well as in Manethc 
and other writers. [Menes (or Mena), perhaps a legendary figure. Soim 
give his date as 3300 B.C., others much earlier. E. H. B.] 

* Note, besides the improbability of such a change, the fact that Menef 
was the reputed founder of Memphis, which is far to the north of this lake 
and that Busiris, near the coast (the reputed burial-place of Osiris), Buto 
Pelusium, and other towns of the Delta, were admitted by the Egyptian: 
to be of the earliest date. * Vide infra, ch. 10. 

6 PUn thine was a town near the Lake Mareotis. 

The real length of the coast from the Bay of Plinthine at Taposiris 
or at Plinthine, even to the eastern end of the Lake Serbonis, is by th 
shore little more than 300 English miles. 

CHAP. 5-8- Egypt Described 1 1 3 

scanty measure them by the fathom; those whose bounds are 
less confined, by the furlong; those who have an ample terri 
tory, by the parasang; but if men have a country which is very 
vast, they measure it by the schcene. Now the length of the 
parasang is thirty furlongs, 1 but the schcene, which is an Egyp 
tian measure, is sixty furlongs. 2 Thus the coast-line of Egypt 
would extend a length of three thousand six hundred furlongs. 

7. From the coast inland as far as Heliopolis the breadth of 
Egypt is considerable, the country is flat, without springs, and 
full of swamps. 3 The length of the route from the sea up to 
Heliopolis is almost exactly the same as that of the road which 
runs from the altar of the twelve gods at Athens 4 to the temple 
of Olympian Jove at Pisa. 5 If a person made a calculation he 
would find but a very little difference between the two routes, 
not more than about fifteen furlongs ; for the road from Athens 
to Pisa falls short of fifteen hundred furlongs by exactly fifteen, 
whereas the distance of Heliopolis from the sea is just the round 
number. 6 

8. As one proceeds beyond Heliopolis 7 up the country, Egypt 
becomes narrow, the Arabian range of hills, which has a direc 
tion from north to south, shutting it in upon the one side, and 
the Libyan range upon the other. The former ridge runs on 
without a break, and stretches away to the sea called the 
Erythraean ; it contains the quarries 8 whence the stone was cut 

1 See note on Book v. ch. 53. 

* This would be more than 36,000 English feet, or nearly 7 miles. The 
Greek crxo^os, " rope," is the same word which signifies rush, of which 
ropes are still made in Egypt and in other countries. 

* Heliopolis stood on the edge of the desert, about 4^ miles to the E. 
of the apex of the Delta; but the alluvial land of the Delta extended 5 
miles farther to the eastward of that city. 

4 The altar of the twelve gods at Athens stood in the Forum, and seems 
to have served, like the gilt pillar (millianum aureum) in the Forum at 
Rome, as a central point from which to measure distances. 

* This mention of Pisa is curious, considering that it had been destroyed 
so long before (B.C. 572) by the Eleans (Pausan. vi. xxii. 2), and that it 
had certainly not been rebuilt by the close of the Peloponnesian war. 
Probably Herodotus intends Olympia itself rather than the ancient town, 
which was six stades distant. 

* Fifteen hundred furlongs (stades), about equal to T73 English miles. 

7 The site of Heliopolis is still marked by the massive walls that sur 
rounded it, and by a granite obelisk bearing the name of Osirtasen I. of 
the 1 2th dynasty, dating about 3900 years ago. It was one of two that 
stood before the entrance to the temple of the Sun. [The Biblical " ON," 
Gen. xli. 45; in Jeremiah called Bettashemesh ("house of the sun"): 
Hastings, Diet, of Bible, s.v. ON. E. H. B.] 

1 The quarries from which the stone for the casing of the pyramids was 
taken are in that part of the modern El-Mokuttum range of hills called by 
Strabo the " Trojan mountain," and now Gebel Masarah or Toora Masarah, 
from the two villages below them on the Nile, 

1 14 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

for the pyramids of Memphis: and this is the point where it 
ceases its first direction, and bends away in the manner above 
indicated. 1 In its greatest length from east to west it is, as I 
have been informed, a distance of two months journey; towards 
the extreme east its skirts produce frankincense. Such are the 
chief features of this range. On the Libyan side, the other 
ridge whereon the pyramids stand, is rocky and covered 
with sand; its direction is the same as that of the Arabian 
ridge in the first part of its course. Above Heliopolis, then, 
there is no great breadth of territory for such a country as 
Egypt, but during four days sail Egypt is narrow; a the valley 
between the two ranges is a level plain, and seemed to me to 
be, at the narrowest point, not more than two hundred furlongs 
across from the Arabian to the Libyan hills. Above this point 
Egypt again widens. 

9. From Heliopolis to Thebes is nine days sail up the river; 
the distance is eighty-one schoenes, or 4860 furlongs. 3 If we 
now put together the several measurements of the country we 
shall find that the distance along shore is, as I stated above, 
3600 furlongs, and the distance from the sea inland to Thebes 
6120 furlongs. Further, it is a distance of eighteen hundred 
furlongs from Thebes to the place called Elephantine^ 

10. The greater portion of the country above described seemed 
to me to be, as the priests declared, a tract gained by the 
inhabitants. For the whole region above Memphis, lying be 
tween the two ranges of hills that have been spoken of, appeared 
evidently to have formed at one time a gulf of the sea. It 
resembles (to compare small things with great) the parts about 
Ilium and Teuthrania, Ephesus, and the plain of the Mseander. 4 
In all these regions the land has been formed by rivers, whereof 
the greatest is not to compare for size with any one of the five 
mouths of the Nile. 8 I could mention other rivers also, far 
inferior to the Nile in magnitude, that have effected very great 

1 That is, towards the Erythraean Sea, or Arabian Gulf. 

That is, from Heliopolis southward; and he says it becomes broader 
again beyond that point. His 200 stadia are about 22$ to 23 miles. 

3 The nine days sail, which Herodotus reckons at 4860 stadia, would 
give about 552 Eng. miles; but the distance is only about 421, ever 
following the course of the river. 

* In some of these places the gain of the land upon the sea has been verj 
great. This is particularly the case at the mouth of the Masander, wher< 
the alluvial plain has advanced in the historic times a distance of 12 oj 
13 miles. 

6 This signifies the natural branches of the Nile; and when seven ar< 
reckoned, they include the two artificial ones. 

CHAP. 9-12. Two Parallel Gulfs 1 1 5 

changes. Among these not the least is the Acheloiis, which, 
after passing through Acarnania, empties itself into the sea 
opposite the islands called Echinades, 1 and has already joined 
one-half of them to the continent. 2 

11. In Arabia, not far from Egypt, there is a long and narrow 
gulf running inland from the sea called the Erythraean, 3 of which 
I will here set down the dimensions. Starting from its inner 
most recess, and using a row-boat, you take forty days to reach 
the open main, while you may cross the gulf at its widest part 
in the space of half a day. In this sea there is an ebb and flow 
of the tide every day. 4 My opinion is, that Egypt was formerly 
very much such a gulf as this one gulf penetrated from the sea 
that washes Egypt on the north, 6 and extended itself towards 
Ethiopia; another entered from the southern ocean, and 
stretched towards Syria; the two gulfs ran into the land so as 
almost to meet each other, and left between them only a very 
narrow tract of country. Now if the Nile should choose to 
divert his waters from their present bed into this Arabian gulf, 
what is there to hinder it from being filled up by the stream 
within, at the utmost, twenty thousand years? For my part, 
I think it would be filled in half the time. How then should 
not a gulf, even of much greater size, have been filled up in 
the ages that passed before I was born, by a river that is at 
once so large and so given to working changes? 

12. Thus I give credit to those from whom I received this 
account of Egypt, and am myself, moreover, strongly of the 
same opinion, since I remarked that the country projects into 
the sea further than the neighbouring shores, and I observed 
that there were shells upon the hills, and that salt exuded from 
the soil to such an extent as even to injure the pyramids; and 

1 These islands, which still bear the same name among the educated 
Greeks, consist of two clusters, linked together by the barren and rugged 

1 That the Achelpus in ancient times formed fresh land at its mouth 
with very great rapidity is certain, from the testimony of various writers 
besides Herodotus. 

* The Greeks generally did not give the name Erythraean, or Red Sea, 
to the Arabian Gulf, but to all that part of the Indian Ocean reaching from 
the Persian Gulf to India (as in ii. 102; and iv. 39). It was also applied 
to the Persian Gulf (i. i, 180, 189), and Herodotus sometimes gives it to 
the Arabian Gulf, and even the western branch between Mount Sinai and 
Egypt (ii. 158). 

* Herodotus is perfectly right in speaking of the tide in this gulf. At 
Suez it is from 5 to 6 feet, but much less to the southward. 

6 The Mediterranean, called by the Arabs " the White Sea " as well as 
" the North Sea." 

1 1 6 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

I noticed also that there is but a single hill in all Egypt where 
sand is found, 1 namely, the hill above Memphis; and further, I 
found the country to bear no resemblance either to its border 
land Arabia, or to Libya 2 nay, nor even to Syria, which forms 
the seaboard of Arabia; but whereas the soil of Libya is, we 
know, sandy and of a reddish hue, and that of Arabia and 
Syria inclines to stone and clay, Egypt has a soil that is black 
and crumbly, as being alluvial and fonned of the deposits 
brought down by the river from Ethiopia. 

13. One fact which I learnt of the priests is to me a strong 
evidence of the origin of the country. They said that when 
Moeris was king, the Nile overflowed all Egypt below Memphis, 
as soon as it rose so little as eight cubits. Now Moeris had not 
been dead 900 years at the time when I heard this of the priests ; 3 
yet at the present day, unless the river rise sixteen, or, at the 
very least, fifteen cubits, it does not overflow the lands. It 
seems to me, therefore, that if the land goes on rising and growing 
at this rate, the Egyptians who dwell below lake Moeris, in the 
Delta (as it is called) and elsewhere, will one day, by the stop 
page of the inundations, suffer permanently the fate which they 
told me they expected would some time or other befall the 
Greeks. On hearing that the whole land of Greece is watered 
by rain from heaven, and not, like their own, inundated by 
rivers, they observed " Some day the Greeks will be disap 
pointed of their grand hope, and then they will be wretchedly 
hungry ; which was as much as to say, If God shall some 
day see fit not to grant the Greeks rain, but shall afflict them 
with a long drought, the Greeks will be swept away by a famine, 

1 The only mountain where sand abounds is certainly the African range. 

3 It is perfectly true that neither in soil nor climate is Egypt like any 
other country. The soil is, as Herodotus says, " black and crumbly." 
The deposit of the Nile, when left on a rock and dried by the sun, resembles 
pottery hi its appearance and by its fracture, from the silica it contains; 
but as long as it retains its moisture it has the appearance of clay, from 
its slimy and tenacious quality. It varies according to circumstances, 
sometimes being mixed with sand, but it is generally of a black colour, and 
Egypt is said to have been called hence black," from the prevailing 
character of its soil. 

3 This would make the date of Mceris about 1355 B.C.; but it neither 
agrees with the age of Amun-nV-he III. of the Labyrinth, nor of Thothmes 
III. The Moeris, however, from whom these dates are calculated, appears 
to have been Menophres, whose era was so remarkable, and was fixed as 
the Sothic period, B.C. 1322, which happened about 900 years before 
Herodotus visit, only falling short of that sum by 33 years. It is reasonable 
to suppose that by Mceris he would refer to that king who was so remarkable 
for his attention to the levels of the Nile, shown by his making the lake 
called after him. 

CHAP. 13-15. Egyptian Farming 1 1 7 

since they have nothing to rely on but rain from Jove, and 
have no other resource for water." 

14. And certes, in thus speaking of the Greeks the Egyptians 
say nothing but what is true. But now let me tell the Egyp 
tians how the case stands with themselves. If, as I said before, 
the country below Memphis, which is the land that is always 
rising, continues to increase in height at the rate at which it has 
risen in times gone by, how will it be possible for the inhabi 
tants of that region to avoid hunger, when they will certainly 
have no rain, 1 and the river will not be able to overflow their 
corn-lands? At present, it must be confessed, they obtain the 
fruits of the field with less trouble than any other people in the 
world, the rest of the Egyptians included, since they have no 
need to break up the ground with the plough, nor to use the 
hoe, nor to do any of the work which the rest of mankind find 
necessary if they are to get a crop; but the husbandman waits 
till the river has of its own accord spread itself over the fields 
and withdrawn again to its bed, and then sows his plot of ground, 
and after sowing turns his swine into it the swine tread in the 
corn 2 after which he has only to await the harvest. The 
swine serve him also to thrash the grain, 3 which is then carried 
to the garner. 

15. If then we choose to adopt the views of the lonians 
concerning Egypt, we must come to the conclusion that the 
Egyptians had formerly no country at all. For the lonians say 
that nothing is really Egypt 4 but the Delta, which extends 
along shore from the Watch-tower of Perseus, 5 as it is called, 
to the Pelusiac Salt-pans, a distance of forty schcenes, and 

1 In Upper Egypt showers only occur about five or six times in the year, 
but every fifteen or twenty years heavy rain falls there, which will account 
for the deep ravines cut in the valleys of the Theban hills, about the 
Tombs of the Kings; in Lower Egypt rain is more frequent; and in 
Alexandria it is as abundant in winter as in the south of Europe. 

* Plutarch, ylian, and Pliny mention this custom of treading in the 
grain " with pigs " in Egypt; but no instance occurs of it in the tombs, 
though goats are sometimes so represented in the paintings. It is indeed 
more probable that pigs were turned in upon the land to eat up the weeds 
and roots. 

5 The paintings show that oxen were commonly used to tread out the 
grain from the ear at harvest- time, and occasionally, though rarely, asses 
were so employed; but pigs not being sufficiently heavy for the purpose, 
are not likely to have been substituted for oxen. 

4 There is no appearance of the name " Egypt " on the ancient monu 
ments, where the country is called " Chemi." Egypt is said to have been 
called originally Aetia, and the Nile Aetos and Siris. Upper Egypt, or 
the Thebaid, has even been confounded with, and called, Ethiopia. 

1 This tower stood to the W. of the Canopic mouth. 

1 1 8 The History of Herodotus BOOK IL 

stretches inland as far as the city of Cercasorus, where the Nile 
divides into the two streams which reach the sea at Pelusium 
and Canobus respectively. The rest of what is accounted 
Egypt belongs, they say, either to Arabia or Libya. But the 
Delta, as the Egyptians affirm, and as I myself am persuaded, 
is formed of the deposits of the river, and has only recently, if 
I may use the expression, come to light. If, then, they had 
formerly no territory at all, how came they to be so extravagant 
as to fancy themselves the most ancient race in the world? 
Surely there was no need of their making the experiment with 
the children to see what language they would first speak. But 
in truth I do not believe that the Egyptians came into being at 
the same time with the Delta, as the lonians call it; I think 
they have always existed ever since the human race began; as 
the land went on increasing, part of the population came down 
into the new country, part remained in their old settlements. 
In ancient times the Thebais bore the name of Egypt, a district 
of which the entire circumference is but 6120 furlongs. 

16. If, then, my judgment on these matters be right, the 
lonians are mistaken in what they say of Egypt. If, on the 
contrary, it is they who are right, then I undertake to show 
that neither the lonians nor any of the other Greeks know how 
to count. For they all say that the earth is divided into three 
parts, Europe, Asia, and Libya, whereas they ought to add a 
fourth part, the Delta of Egypt, since they do not include it 
either in Asia or Libya. 1 For is it not their theory that the 
Nile separates Asia from Libya? As the Nile, therefore, splits 
in two at the apex of the Delta, the Delta itself must be a 
separate country, not contained in either Asia or Libya. 

17. Here I take my leave of the opinions of the lonians, and 
proceed to deliver my own sentiments on these subjects. I con 
sider Egypt to be the whole country inhabited by the Egyptians, 
just as Cilicia is the tract occupied by the Cilicians, and Assyria 
that possessed by the Assyrians. And I regard the only proper 
boundary-line between Libya and Asia to be that which is 
marked out by the Egyptian frontier. For if we take the 
boundary-line commonly received by the Greeks, 2 we must 
regard Egypt as divided, along its whole length from Elephan 
tine and the Cataracts to Cercasorus, into two parts, each 

1 Though Egypt really belongs to the continent of Africa, the inhabi 
tants were certainly of Asiatic origin. 
1 That is, the course of the Nile. 

CHAP. 16-19. The Nile 1 1 9 

belonging to a different portion of the world, one to Asia, the 
other to Libya; since the Nile divides Egypt in two from the 
Cataracts to the sea, running as far as the city of Cercasorus in 
a single stream, but at that point separating into three branches, 
whereof the one which bends eastward is called the Pelusiac 
mouth, and that which slants to the west, the Canobic. Mean 
while the straight course of the stream, which comes down from 
the upper country and meets the apex of the Delta, continues 
on, dividing the Delta down the middle, and empties itself into 
the sea by a mouth, which is as celebrated, and carries as large 
a body of water, as most of the others, the mouth called the 
Sebennytic. Besides these there are two other mouths which 
run out of the Sebennytic called respectively the Saitic and the 
Mendesian. The Bolbitine mouth, and the Bucolic, are not 
natural branches, but channels made by excavation. 

18. My judgment as to the extent of Egypt is confirmed by 
an oracle delivered at the shrine of Ammon, of which I had no 
knowledge at all until after I had formed my opinion. It 
happened that the people of the cities Marea l and Apis, who 
live in the part of Egypt that borders on Libya, took a dislike 
to the religious usages of the country concerning sacrificial 
animals, and wished no longer to be restricted from eating the 
flesh of cows. 2 So, as they believed themselves to be Libyans 
and not Egyptians, they sent to the shrine to say that, having 
nothing in common with the Egyptians, neither inhabiting the 
Delta nor using the Egyptian tongue, they claimed to be allowed 
to eat whatever they pleased. Their request, however, was 
refused by the god, who declared in reply that Egypt was the 
entire tract of country which the Nile overspreads and irrigates, 
and the Egyptians were the people who lived below Elephan 
tine, 3 and drank the waters of that river. 

19. So said the oracle. Now the Nile, when it overflows, 
floods not only the Delta, but also the tracts of country on both 

1 The town of Marea stood near the lake to which it gave the name 
Mareotis. It was celebrated for the wine produced in its vicinity. 

* Though oxen were lawful food to the Egyptians, cows and heifers were 
forbidden to be killed, either for the altar or the table, being consecrated 
(not as Herodotus states, ch. 41, to Isis, but as Strabo says) to Atbor, who 
was represented under the form of a spotted cow, and to whose temple 
at Atarbechis, " the city of Athor," as Herodotus afterwards shows, the 
bodies of those that died were carried (ch. 41). 

8 Syene and Elephantin6 were the real frontier of Egypt on the S.; 
Egypt extending " from the tower (Migdol) of Syene " to the sea (Ezek. 
xxix. 10). 

I 405 *E 

120 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

sides the stream which are thought to belong to Libya and 
Arabia, in some places reaching to the extent of two days 
journey from its banks, in some even exceeding that distance, 
but in others falling short of it. 

Concerning the nature of the river, I was not able to gain 
any information either from the priests or from others. I was 
particularly anxious to learn from them why the Nile, at the 
commencement of the summer solstice, begins to rise, 1 and con 
tinues to increase for a hundred days and why, as soon as that 
number is past, it forthwith retires and contracts its stream, 
continuing low during the whole of the winter until the summer 
solstice comes round again. On none of these points could I 
obtain any explanation from the inhabitants, 2 though I made 
every inquiry, wishing to know what was commonly reported 
they could neither tell me what special virtue the Nile has 
which makes it so opposite in its nature to all other streams, 
nor why, unlike every other river, it gives forth no breezes 3 
from its surface. 

20. Some of the Greeks, however, wishing to get a reputation 
for cleverness, have offered explanations of the phenomena of 
the river, for which they have accounted in three different ways. 
Two of these I do not think it worth while to speak of, further 
than simply to mention what they are. One pretends that the 
Etesian winds 4 cause the rise of the river by preventing the 
Nile-water from running off into the sea. But in the first place 
it has often happened, when the Etesian winds did not blow, 
that the Nile has risen according to its usual wont; and further, 
if the Etesian winds produced the effect, the other rivers which 
flow in a direction opposite to those winds ought to present the 
same phenomena as the Nile, and the more so as they are all 

1 Herodotus was surprised that the Nile should rise in the summer 
solstice and become low in winter. In the latitude of Memphis it begins 
to rise at the end of June, about the loth of August it attains to the height 
requisite for cutting the canals and admitting it into the interior of the 
plain ; and it is generally at its highest about the end of September. This 
makes from 92 to 100 days, as Herodotus states. 

3 The cause of the inundation is the water that falls during the rainy 
season in Abyssinia; and the range of the tropical rains extends even as 
far.N. as latitude 17 43 . 

3 If this signifies that breezes are not generated by, and do not rise from, 
the Nile, it is true; but not if it means that a current of air does not blow 
up the valley. 

4 The annual N.W. winds blow from the Mediterranean during the 
inundation ; but they are not the cause of the rise of the Nile, though they 
help in a small degree to impede its course northwards. For the navigation 
of the river they are invaluable. 

CHAP. 20-22. Causes of Inundation 121 

smaller streams, and have a weaker current. But these rivers, 
of which there are many both in Syria x and Libya, are entirely 
unlike the Nile in this respect. 

21. The second opinion is even more unscientific than the one 
just mentioned, and also, if I may so say, more marvellous. It 
is that the Nile acts so strangely, because it flows from the 
ocean, and that the ocean flows all round the earth. 2 

22. The third explanation, which is very much more plausible 
than either of the others, is positively the furthest from the 
truth; for there is really nothing in what it says, any more than 
in the other theories. It is, that the inundation of the Nile is 
caused by the melting of snows. 3 Now, as the Nile flows out of 
Libya, 4 through Ethiopia, into Egypt, how is it possible that it 
can be formed of melted snow, running, as it does, from the 
hottest regions of the world into cooler countries? Many are 
the proofs whereby any one capable of reasoning on the subject 
may be convinced that it is most unlikely this should be the 
case. The first and strongest argument is furnished by the 
winds, which always blow hot from these regions. The second 
is, that rain and frost are unknown there. 5 Now whenever 
snow falls, it must of necessity rain within five days ; 6 so that, 
if there were snow, there must be rain also in those parts. 
Thirdly, it is certain that the natives of the country are black 
with the heat, that the kites and the swallows remain there the 
whole year, and that the cranes, when they fly from the rigours 
of a Scythian winter, flock thither to pass the cold season. 7 If 

1 It is possible to justify this statement, which at first sight seems untrue, 
by considering that the direction of the Etesian winds was north-westerly 
rather than north. This was natural, as they are caused by the rush of 
the air from the Mediterranean and ^Egean, to fill up the vacuum caused 
by the rarefaction of the atmosphere over the desert lands in the neighbour 
hood of the sea. 

8 That the Nile flowed from the ocean, and that the ocean flowed all 
round the earth, were certainly opinions of Hecataeus. It is probable, 
therefore, that his account of the inundation is here intended. 

3 This was the opinion of Anaxagoras, as well as of his pupil Euripides 
and others. Herodotus is wrong in supposing snow could not be found on 
mountains in the hot climate of Africa; perpetual snow is not confined 
to certain latitudes; and ancient and modern discoveries prove that it is 
found in the ranges S. of Abyssinia. 

* That is, from Central Africa. 

* Herodotus was not aware of the rainy season in Sennar and the S.S.W. 
of Abyssinia, nor did he know of the Abyssinian snow. 

* I have found nothing in any writer, ancient or modern, to confirm, 
or so much as to explain, this assertion. In some parts of England there 
is a saying, that " three days of white frost are sure to bring rain." 

7 Cranes and other wading birds are found in the winter, in Upper Egypt, 
but far more in Ethiopia. Kites remain all the winter, and swallows also, 

122 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

then, in the country whence the Nile has its source, or in that 
through which it flows, there fell ever so little snow, it is 
absolutely impossible that any of these circumstances could 
take place. 

23. As for the writer who attributes the phenomenon to the 
ocean, 1 his account is involved in such obscurity, that it is im 
possible to disprove it by argument. For my part I know of no 
river called Ocean, and I think that Homer, or one of the earlier 
poets, invented the name, and introduced it into his poetry. 

24. Perhaps, after censuring all the opinions that have been 
put forward on this obscure subject, one ought to propose some 
theory of one s own. I will therefore proceed to explain what 
I think to be the reason of the Nile s swelling in the summer 
time. During the winter, the sun is driven out of his usual 
course by the storms, and removes to the upper parts of Libya. 
This is the whole secret in the fewest possible words; for it 
stands to reason that the country to which the Sun-god 
approaches the nearest, and which he passes most directly 
over, will be scantest of water, and that there the streams 
which feed the rivers will shrink the most. 

25. To explain, however, more at length, the case is this. 
The sun, in his passage across the upper parts of Libya, affects 
them in the following way. As the air in those regions is con 
stantly clear, and the country warm through the absence of 
cold winds, the sun in his passage across them acts upon them 
exactly as he is wont to act elsewhere in summer, when his path 
is in the middle of heaven that is, he attracts the water. After 
attracting it, he again repels it into the upper regions, where 
the winds lay hold of it, scatter it, and reduce it to a vapour, 
whence it naturally enough comes to pass that the winds which 
blow from this quarter the south and south-west are of all 
winds the most rainy. And my own opinion is that the sun 
does not get rid of all the water which he draws year by year 
from the Nile, but retains some about him. When the winter 
begins to soften, the sun goes back again to his old place in the 
middle of the heaven, and proceeds to attract water equally 
from all countries. Till then the other rivers run big, from the 
quantity of rain-water which they bring down from countries 

though in small numbers, even at Thebes. The swallow was always the 
harbinger of spring, as in Greece and the rest of Europe. 

1 The person to whom Herodotus alludes is Hecataeus. He mentions it 
also as an opinion of the Greeks of Pontus, that the ocean flowed round 
the whole earth (B. iv. ch. 8). 

CHAP. 23-28. Sources of the Nile 123 

where so much moisture falls that all the land is cut into gullies; 
but in summer, when the showers fail, and the sun attracts 
their water, they become low. The Nile, on the contrary, not 
deriving any of its bulk from rains, and being in winter subject 
to the attraction of the sun, naturally runs at that season, unlike 
all other streams, with a less burthen of water than in the 
summer time. For in summer it is exposed to attraction equally 
with all other rivers, but in winter it suffers alone. The sun, 
therefore, I regard as the sole cause of the phenomenon. 

26. It is the sun also, in my opinion, which, by heating the 
space through which it passes, makes the air in Egypt so dry. 
There is thus perpetual summer in the upper parts of Libya a 
Were the position of the heavenly regions reversed, so that the 
place where now the north wind and the winter have their 
dwelling became the station of the south wind and of the noon 
day, while, on the other hand, the station of the south wind 
became that of the north, the consequence would be that the 
sun, driven from the mid-heaven by the winter and the northern 
gales, would betake himself to the upper parts of Europe, as he 
now does to those of Libya, and then I believe his passage 
across Europe would affect the Ister exactly as the Nile is 
affected at the present day. 

27. And with respect to the fact that no breeze blows from 
the Nile, I am of opinion that no wind is likely to arise in very 
hot countries, for breezes love to blow from some cold quarter. 

28. Let us leave these things, however, to their natural 
course, to continue as they are and have been from the beginning. 
With regard to the sources of the Nile, 1 I have found no one 
among all those with whom I have conversed, whether Egyp 
tians, Libyans, or Greeks, 2 who professed to have any know 
ledge, except a single person. He was the scribe 3 who kept the 

1 The sources of the great eastern branch of the Nile have long been 
discovered. They were first visited by the Portuguese Jesuit, Father 
Lobo, and afterwards by Bruce. Herodotus affirms that of all the persons 
he had consulted, none pretended to give him any information about the 
sources, except a scribe of the sacred treasury of Minerva at Sals, who said 
it rose from a certain abyss beneath two pointed hills between Syene and 
Elephantine". This is an important passage in his narrative, as it involves 
the question of his having visited the Thebaid. 

1 This was one of the great problems of antiquity, as of later times. 

8 The scribes had different offices and grades. The sacred scribes held 
a high post hi the priesthood; and the royal scribes were the king s sons 
and military men of rank. There were also ordinary scribes or notaries, 
who were conveyancers, wrote letters on business, settled accounts, and 
performed different offices in the market. 

1 24 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

register of the sacred treasures of Minerva in the city of Sais, 
and he did not seem to me to be in earnest when he said that 
he knew them perfectly well. His story was as follows:- 
Between Syene, a city of the Thebais, and Elephantin6, there 
are " (he said) " two hills with sharp conical tops; the name of 
the one is Crophi, of the other, Mophi. Midway between them 
are the fountains of the Nile, fountains which it is impossible to 
fathom. Half the water runs northward into Egypt, half to 
the south towards Ethiopia." The fountains were known to be 
unfathomable, he declared, because Psammetichus, an Egyptian 
king, had made trial of them. He had caused a rope to be 
made, many thousand fathoms in length, and had sounded the 
fountain with it, but could find no bottom. By this the scribe 
gave me to understand, if there was any truth at all in what he 
said, that in this fountain there are certain strong eddies, and a 
regurgitation, owing to the force wherewith the water dashes 
against the mountains, and hence a sounding-line cannot be 
got to reach the bottom of the spring. 

29. No other information on this head could I obtain from 
any quarter. All that I succeeded in learning further of the 
more distant portions of the Nile, by ascending myself as high 
as Elephantine, and making inquiries concerning the parts 
beyond, was the following: As one advances beyond Elephan 
tine, the land rises. 1 Hence it is necessary in this part of the 
river to attach a rope to the boat on each side, as men harness 
an ox, and so proceed on the journey. If the rope snaps, the 
vessel is borne away down stream by the force of the current. 
The navigation continues the same for four days, the river 
winding greatly, like the Maeander, 2 and the distance traversed 
amounting to twelve schcenes. Here you come upon a smooth 
and level plain, where the Nile flows in two branches, round an 
island called Tachompso. 3 The country above Elephantin6 is 
inhabited by the Ethiopians, who possess one-half of this island, 
the Egyptians occupying the other. Above the island there is 

1 This fact should have convinced Herodotus of the improbability of the 
story of the river flowing southwards into Ethiopia. That boats are obliged 
to be dragged by ropes in order to pass the rapids is true ; and in performing 
this arduous duty great skill and agility are required. 

* The windings of the Maeander are perhaps at the present day still 
more remarkable than they were anciently, owing to the growth of the 
alluvial plain through which it flows. 

* The distances given by Herodotus are 4 days through the district of 
Dodecaschoenus to Tachompso Isle, then 40 days by land, then 12 days by 
boat to Meroe; altogether 56 days. 

CHAP. 29-30. The Deserters 1 2 5 

a great lake, the shores of which are inhabited by Ethiopian 
nomads; after passing it, you come again to the stream of the 
Nile, which runs into the lake. Here you land, and travel for 
forty days along the banks of the river, since it is impossible to 
proceed further in a boat on account of the sharp peaks which 
jut out from the water, and the sunken rocks which abound in 
that part of the stream. When you have passed this portion 
of the river in the space of forty days, you go on board another 
boat and proceed by water for twelve days more, at the end of 
which time you reach a great city called Meroe, which is said to 
be the capital of the other Ethiopians. The only gods wor 
shipped by the inhabitants are Jupiter and Bacchus, 1 to whom 
great honours are paid. There is an oracle of Jupiter in the 
city, which directs the warlike expeditions of the Ethiopians; 
when it commands they go to war, 2 and in whatever direction 
it bids them march, thither straightway they carry their arms. 
30. On leaving this city, and again mounting the stream, in 
the same space of time which it took you to reach the capital 
from Elephantine, you come to the Deserters, 3 who bear the 
name of Asmach. This word, translated into our language, 
means " the men who stand on the left hand of the king." 4 
These Deserters are Egyptians of the warrior caste, who, to the 
number of two hundred and forty thousand, went over to the 
Ethiopians in the reign of king Psammetichus. The cause of 

1 Amun and Osiris answered to Jupiter and Bacchus; and both the 
Amun of Thebes and the ram-headed Nou (or Kneph) were worshipped 
in Ethiopia. But it is this last deity to whom Heredotus alludes. [See 
Prof. W. Flinders Petrie, Religion and Conscience in Ancient Egypt, chap, 
iv. " The Egyptian Mythology." E. H. B.] 

a The influence of the priests at Meroe, through the belief that they 
spoke the commands of the Deity, is more fully shown by Strabo and 
Diodorus, who say it was their custom to send to the king, when it pleased 
them, and order him to put an end to himself, in obedience to the will 
of the oracle imparted to them; and to such a degree had they contrived 
to enslave the understanding of those princes by superstitious fears, that 
they were obeyed without opposition. At length a king, called Ergamenes, 
a contemporary of Ptolemy Philadelphus, dared to disobey their orders, 
and having entered " the golden chapel " with his soldiers, caused them 
to be put to death in his stead, and abolished the custom. 

3 The descendants of the 240,000 deserters from Psammetichus lived, 
according to Herodotus, 4 months journey above Elephantine (ch. 31), 
from which Meroe stood half-way. 

4 Diodorus says that the reason of the Egyptian troops deserting from 
Psammetichus was his having placed them in the left wing, while the right 
was given to the strangers in his army, which is not only more probable 
than the reason assigned by Herodotus, but is strongly confirmed by the 
discovery of an inscription in Nubia, written apparently by the Greeks 
who accompanied Psammetichus when in pursuit of the deserters. 

126 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

their desertion was the following: Three garrisons were main 
tained in Egypt at that time/ one in the city of Elephantine* 
against the Ethiopians, another in the Pelusiac Daphnae, against 
the Syrians and Arabians, and a third, against the Libyans, in 
Marea. (The very same posts are to this day occupied by the 
Persians, whose forces are in garrison both in Daphnae and in 
Elephantin6.) Now it happened, that on one occasion the 
garrisons were not relieved during the space of three years ; the 
soldiers, therefore, at the end of that time, consulted together, 
and having determined by common consent to revolt, marched 
away towards Ethiopia. Psammetichus, informed of the move 
ment, set out in pursuit, and coming up with them, besought 
them with many words not to desert the gods of their country, 
nor abandon their wives and children. Nay, but," said one 
of the deserters with an unseemly gesture, " wherever we go, we 
are sure enough of finding wives and children." Arrived in 
Ethiopia, they placed themselves at the disposal of the king. 
In return, he made them a present of a tract of land which 
belonged to certain Ethiopians with whom he was at feud, 
bidding them expel the inhabitants and take possession of their 
territory. From the time that this settlement was formed, 
their acquaintance with Egyptian manners has tended to civilise 
the Ethiopians. 2 

31. Thus the course of the Nile is known, not only through 
out Egypt, but to the extent of four months 7 journey either by 
land or water above the Egyptian boundary ; for on calculation 
it will be found that it takes that length of time to travel from 
Elephantine to the country of the Deserters. There the direc 
tion of the river is from west to east. 3 Beyond, no one has any 
certain knowledge of its course, since the country is uninhabited 
by reason of the excessive heat. 

32. I did hear, indeed, what I will now relate, from certain 
natives of Cyrene. Once upon a time, they said, they were on 
a visit to the oracular shrine of Ammon, 4 when it chanced that 
in the course of conversation with Etearchus, the Ammonian 

1 It was always the custom of the Egyptians to have a garrison stationed, 
as Herodotus states, on the frontier. 

2 This would be a strong argument, if required, against the notion of 
civilisation having come from the Ethiopians to Egypt; but the monu 
ments prove beyond all question that the Ethiopians borrowed from Egypt 
their religion and their habits of civilisation. 

3 This only applies to the white river, or western branch of the Nile. 

* This was in the modern Oasis of See-wah (Siwah), where remains of 
the temple are still seen. The oracle long continued in great repute. 

CHAP. 31-32. Interior of Libya 127 

king, the talk fell upon the Nile, how that its sources were un 
known to all men. Etearchus upon this mentioned that some 
Nasamonians had once come to his court, and when asked if 
they could give any information concerning the uninhabited 
parts of Libya, had told the following tale. (The Nasamonians 
are a Libyan race who occupy the Syrtis, and a tract of no 
great size towards the east. 1 ) They said there had grown up 
among them some wild young men, the sons of certain chiefs, 
who, when they came to man s estate, indulged in all manner 
of extravagancies, and among other things drew lots for five of 
their number to go and explore the desert parts of Libya, and 
try if they could not penetrate further than any had done pre 
viously. The coast of Libya along the sea which washes it to 
the north, throughout its entire length from Egypt to Cape 
Soloeis, 2 which is its furthest point, is inhabited by Libyans of 
many distinct tribes who possess the whole tract except certain 
portions which belong to the Phoenicians and the Greeks. 8 
Above the coast-line and the country inhabited by the maritime 
tribes, Libya is full of wild beasts; while beyond the wild beast 
region there is a tract which is wholly sand, very scant of water, 
and utterly and entirely a desert. The young men therefore, 
despatched on this errand by their comrades with a plentiful 
supply of water and provisions, travelled at first through the 
inhabited region, passing which they came to the wild beast 
tract, whence they finally entered upon the desert, which they 
proceeded to cross in a direction from east to west. After 
journeying for many days over a wide extent of sand, they came 
at last to a plain where they observed trees growing ; approach 
ing them, and seeing fruit on them, they proceeded to gather 
it. While they were thus engaged, there came upon them some 
dwarfish men, 4 under the middle height, who seized them and 
carried them off. The Nasamonians could not understand a 
word of their language, nor had they any acquaintance with 
the language of the Nasamonians. They were led across exten 
sive marshes, and finally came to a town, where all the men 
were of the height of their conductors, and black-complexioned. 

L Vide infra, iv. 172, 173. 

1 Cape Spartel, near Tangier. 

That is, the Cyrenaica, and the possessions of the Phoenicians and 
Carthaginians, or more properly the Poeni, on the N. and W. coasts. 

*Men of diminutive size really exist in Africa, but the Nasamones 
probably only knew of some by report. The pigmies are mentioned by 
Homer (II. iii. 6) and others, and often represented on Greek vases. 

128 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

A great river flowed by the town, 1 running from west to east, 
and containing crocodiles. 

33. Here let me dismiss Etearchus the Ammonian, and his 
story, only adding that (according to the Cyrenaeans) he declared 
that the Nasamonians got safe back to their country, and that 
the men whose city they had reached were a nation of sorcerers. 
With respect to the river which ran by their town, Etearchus 
conjectured it to be the Nile; and reason favours that view. 
For the Nile certainly flows out of Libya, dividing it down the 
middle, and as I conceive, judging the unknown from the known, 
rises at the same distance from its mouth as the Ister. 2 This 
latter river has its source in the country of the Celts near the 
city Pyrene, and runs through the middle of Europe, dividing it 
into two portions. The Celts live beyond the pillars of Hercules, 
and border on the Cynesians, 3 who dwell at the extreme west of 
Europe. Thus the Ister flows through the whole of Europe 
before it finally empties itself into the Euxine at Istria, 4 one of 
the colonies of the Milesians. 

34. Now as this river flows through regions that are inhabited, 
its course is perfectly well known; but of the sources of the 
Nile no one can give any account, since Libya, the country 
through which it passes, is desert and without inhabitants. As 
far as it was possible to get information by inquiry, I have given 
a description of the stream. It enters Egypt from the parts 
beyond. Egypt lies almost exactly opposite the mountainous 
portion of Cilicia, 6 whence a lightly-equipped traveller may 
reach Sinope" on the Euxine in five days by the direct route. 6 
Sinope lies opposite the place where the Ister falls into the sea. 7 

1 It seems not improbable that we have here a mention of the river 
Niger, and of the ancient representative of the modern city of Timbuctoo. 

2 Herodotus does not intend any exact correspondency between the Nile 
and the Danube. He is only speaking of the comparative length of the 
two streams, and conjectures that they are equal in this respect. 

8 The Cynesians are mentioned again in iv. 49 as Cynetes. They are a 
nation of whom nothing is known but their abode from very ancient 
times at the extreme S.W. of Europe. 

4 If the Danube in the time of Herodotus entered the Euxine at Istria, 
it must have changed its course very greatly since he wrote. 

6 Cilicia was divided into two portions, the eastern, or " Cilicia campes- 
tris," and the western, or " Cilicia aspera." Egypt does not really lie 
" opposite " that is, in the same longitude with the latter region. It 
rather faces Pamphylia, but Herodotus gives all Africa, as far as the 
Lesser Syrtis, too easterly a position. 

6 Supra, i. 72, sub fin. 

7 This of course is neither true, nor near the truth ; and it is difficult 
to make out in what sense Herodotus meant to assert it. Perhaps h 
attached no very distinct geographical meaning to the word " opposite." 

CHAP. 33-35. Egyptian Customs 129 

My opinion therefore is that the Nile, as it traverses the whole 
of Libya, is of equal length with the Ister. And here I take 
my leave of this subject. 

35. Concerning Egypt itself I shall extend my remarks to a 
great length, because there is no country that possesses so many 
wonders, 1 nor any that has such a number of works which defy 
description. Not only is the climate different from that of the 
rest of the world, and the rivers unlike any other rivers, but 
the people also, in most of their manners and customs, exactly 
reverse the common practice of mankind. The women attend 
the markets 2 and trade, while the men sit at home at the 
loom ; 8 and here, while the rest of the world works the woof up 
the warp, the Egyptians work it down; the women likewise 
carry burthens upon their shoulders, while the men carry them 
upon their heads. They eat their food out of doors in the 
streets, 4 but retire for private purposes to their houses, giving 
as a reason that what is unseemly, but necessary, ought to be 
done in secret, but what has nothing unseemly about it, should 
be done openly. A woman cannot serve the priestly office, 5 

1 By this statement Herodotus prepares his readers for what he is about 
to relate ; but the desire to tell of the wonders in which it differed from all 
other countries led Herodotus to indulge in his love of antithesis, so that 
in some cases he confines to one sex what was done by both (a singular 
instance being noted down by him as an hi variable custom), and in others 
he has indulged in the marvellous at a sacrifice of truth. If, however, 
Herodotus had told us that the Egyptian women enjoyed greater liberty, 
confidence, and consideration than under the hareem system of the Greeks 
and Persians (Book i. ch. 136), he would have been fully justified, for the 
treatment of women in Egypt was far better than hi Greece. In many 
cases where Herodotus tells improbable tales, they are on the authority 
of others, or mere hearsay reports, for which he at once declares himself 
not responsible, and he justly pleads that his history was not only a relation 
of facts, but the result of an " icrTopla," or " inquiry," in which all he 
heard was inserted. 

* The market-place was originally outside the walls, generally in an open 
space, beneath what was afterwards the citadel or the acropolis. 

a The ancients generally seem to have believed the charge of effeminacy 
brought by Herodotus against the Egyptians. 

4 That they sometimes ate in the street is not to be doubted; but this 
was only the poorer class, as in other parts of ancient and modern Europe, 
and could not be mentioned in contradistinction to a Greek custom. The 
Egyptians generally dined at a small round table, having one leg (similar 
to the monopodium), at which one or more persons sat, and they ate with 
their fingers like the Greeks and the modern Arabs. Several dishes were 
placed upon the table, and before eating it was their custom to say grace. 

6 Though men held the priesthood in Egypt, as in other countries, 
women were not excluded from certain important duties in the temples, 
as Herodotus also shows (chs. 54, 56) ; the queens made offerings with the 
kings; and the monuments, as well as Diodorus, show that an order of 
women, chosen from the principal families, were employed in the service 
of the gods. 

130 The History of Herodotus BOOK n 

either for god or goddess, but men are priests to both; sons 
need not support their parents unless they choose, but daughters 
must, whether they choose or no. 1 

36. In other countries the priests have long hair, in Egypt 
their heads are shaven; 2 elsewhere it is customary, in mourning, 
for near relations to cut their hair close: the Egyptians, who 
wear no hair at any other time, when they lose a relative, let 
their beards and the hair of their heads grow long. All other 
men pass their lives separate from animals, the Egyptians have 
animals always living with them; 3 others make barley and 
wheat their food; it is a disgrace to do so in Egypt, 4 where the 
grain they live on is spelt, which some call zea. Dough they 
knead with their feet; but they mix mud, and even take up 
dirt, with their hands. They are the only people in the world 
they at least, and such as have learnt the practice from them 5 
who use circumcision. Their men wear two garments apiece, 
their women but one. 6 They put on the rings and fasten the 
ropes to sails inside; 7 others put them outside. When they 
write 8 or calculate, instead of going, like the Greeks, from left 

1 Of the daughters being forced to support their parents instead of the 
sons, it is difficult to decide ; but the improbability of the custom is glaring. 
It is the son on whom the duty fell of providing for the services in honour 
of his deceased parent; and the law of debt mentioned by Herodotus 
(in ch. 136) contradicts his assertion here. 

8 The custom of shaving the head as well as beard was not confined to 
the priests in Egypt, it was general among all classes; and all the men 
wore wigs or caps fitting close to their heads, except some of the poorest 
class. The custom of allowing the hair to grow in mourning was not 
confined to Egypt. 

3 Their living with animals not only contradicts a previous assertion of 
their eating in the streets, but is contrary to fact. 

4 Their considering it a " disgrace " to live oii wheat and barley is equally 

6 Vide infra, ch. 104. 

6 The men having two dresses, and the women one, gives an erroneous 
impression. The usual dress of men was a long upper robe and a short 
kilt beneath it, the former being laid aside when at work; while women 
had only the long robe. When an extra upper garment was worn over 
these the men had three, the women two; so that, instead of limiting the 
latter to one, he should have given to men always one more garment 
than the women. 

7 The ancient custom of fastening the braces and sheets of the sails 
to rings within the gunwale fully agrees with that still adopted in the Nile 

8 The Egyptians wrote from right to left in hieratic and demotic (or 
enchorial) , which are the two modes of writing here mentioned. The Greeks 
also in old times wrote from right to left, like the Phoenicians, from whom 
they borrowed their alphabet. This seems the natural mode of writing; 
for though we have always been accustomed to write from left to right, 
we invariably use our pencil, in shading a drawing, from right to left, in 
spite of all our previous habit. 

CHAP. 36-37. Priestly Privileges 1 3 1 

tc right, they move their hand from right to left; and they 
insist, notwithstanding, that it is they who go to the right, and 
the Greeks who go to the left. They have two quite different 
kinds of writing, one of which is called sacred, the other common. 
37. They are religious to excess, far beyond any other race of 
men, 1 and use the following ceremonies: They drink out of 
brazen cups, 2 which they scour every day: there is no exception 
to this practice. They wear linen garments, which they are 
specially careful to have always fresh washed. 3 They practise 
circumcision for the sake of cleanliness, considering it better to 
be cleanly than comely. The priests shave their whole body 
every other day, that no lice or other impure thing may adhere 
to them when they are engaged in the service of the gods. 
Their dress is entirely of linen, 4 and their shoes of the papyrus 
plant: 6 it is not lawful for them to wear either dress or shoes of 
any other material. They bathe twice every day in cold water, 
and twice each night; besides which they observe, so to speak, 
thousands of ceremonies. They enjoy, however, not a few ad 
vantages. 6 They consume none of their own property, and are 

1 The extreme religious views of the Egyptians became at length a gross 
superstition, and were naturally a subject for ridicule and contempt. 

2 This, he says, is the universal custom, without exception; but we not 
only know that Joseph had a silver drinking-cup (Gen. xliv. 2, 5), but the 
sculptures show the wealthy Egyptians used glass, porcelain, and gold, 
sometimes inlaid with a coloured composition resembling enamel, or with 
precious stones. That persons who could not afford cups of more costly 
materials should have been contented with those of bronze is very probable. 

8 Their attention to cleanliness was very remarkable, as is shown by their 
shaving the head and beard, and removing the hair from the whole body, 
by their frequent ablutions, and by the strict rules instituted to ensure it. 

4 The dress of the priests consisted, as Herodotus states, of linen (ch. 
81) ; but he does not say they were confined (as some have supposed) to 
a single robe; and whether walking abroad, or officiating in the temple, 
they were permitted to have more than one garment. The high priest 
styled Sem always wore a leopard-skin placed over the linen dress as his 
costume of office. The fine texture of the Egyptian linen is fully proved 
by its transparency, as represented in the paintings, and by the statements 
of ancient writers, sacred (Gen. xli. 42; and 2 Chron. i. 16) as well as 

6 Their sandals were made of the papyrus, an inferior quality being of 
matted palm- leaves; and they either slept on a simple skin stretched 
on the ground, or on a wicker bed, made of palm-branches. 

The greatest of these was the paramount influence they exercised over 
the spiritual, and consequently over the temporal, concerns of the whole 
community, which was secured to them through their superior knowledge, 
by the dependence of all classes on them for the instruction they chose to 
impart, and by their exclusive right of possessing all the secrets of religion 
which were thought to place them far above the rest of mankind. Nor 
did their power over an individual cease with his life; it would even reach 
him after death; and their veto could prevent his being buried in his 
tomb, and consign his name to lasting infamy. 

132 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

at no expense for anything ; l but every day bread is baked for 
them of the sacred corn, and a plentiful supply of beef and of 
goose s flesh is assigned to each, and also a portion of wine made 
from the grape. 2 Fish they are not allowed to eat; 3 and beans, 
which none of the Egyptians ever sow, or eat, if they come 
up of their own accord, either raw or boiled 4 the priests will 
not even endure to look on, since they consider it an unclean 
kind of pulse. Instead of a single priest, each god has the 
attendance of a college, at the head of which is a chief priest; 5 
when one of these dies, his son is appointed in his room. 

38. Male kine are reckoned to belong to Epaphus, 6 and are 
therefore tested in the following manner: One of the priests 
appointed for the purpose searches to see if there is a single 
black hair on the whole body, since in that case the beast is 
unclean. He examines him all over, standing on his legs, and 
again laid upon his back; after which he takes the tongue out 
of his mouth, to see if it be clean in respect of the prescribed 
marks (what they are I will mention elsewhere 7 ); he also 
inspects the hairs of the tail, to observe if they grow naturally. 
If the animal is pronounced clean in all these various points, 
the priest marks him by twisting a piece of papyrus round his 
horns, and attaching thereto some sealing-clay, which he then 
stamps with his own signet-ring. 8 After this the beast is led 

1 They were exempt from taxes, and were provided with a daily allow 
ance of meat, corn, and wine ; and when Pharaoh, by the advice of Joseph, 
took all the land of the Egyptians in lieu of corn (Gen. xlvii. 20, 22), the 
land of the priests was exempt, and the tax of the fifth part of the produce 
was not levied upon it. 

Herodotus is quite right in saying they were allowed to drink wine, 
and the assertion of Plutarch that the kings (who were also of the priestly 
caste) were not permitted to drink it before the reign of Psammetichus 
is contradicted by the authority of the Bible (Gen. xl. 10, 13) and the 

8 Though fish were so generally eaten by the rest of the Egyptians, they 
were forbidden to the priests. The principal food of the priests was beef 
and goose, and the gazelle, ibex, oryx, and wild- fowl were not forbidden; 
but they " abstained from most sorts of pulse, from mutton, and swine s 
flesh, and in their more solemn purifications they even excluded salt from 
their meals." Garlick, leeks, onions, lentils, peas, and above all beans, are 
said to have been excluded from the tables of the priests. 

4 Diodorus is more correct when he says that some only of the Egyptians 
abstained from beans, and it may be doubted if they grew in Egypt without 
being sown. The custom of forbidding beans to the priests was borrowed 
from Egypt by Pythagoras. 

This is fully confirmed by the sculptures. 

Epaphus, Herodotus says (in ch. 153), is the Greek name of Apis. 
7 Perhaps we have here, as in vii. 213, a promise that is unfulfilled. 

The sanction given for sacrificing a bull was by a papyrus band tied 
by the priest round the horns, which he stamped with his signet on sealing- 

CHAP. 38-40. Manner of Sacrifice 133 

away; and it is forbidden, under the penalty of death, to 
sacrifice an animal which has not been marked in this way. 

39. The following is their manner of sacrifice: They lead the 
victim, marked with their signet, to the altar where they are 
about to offer it, and setting the wood alight, pour a libation of 
wine upon the altar in front of the victim, and at the same time 
invoke the god. Then they slay the animal, and cutting off 
his head, proceed to flay the body. Next they take the head, 
and heaping imprecations on it, if there is a market-place and a 
body of Greek traders in the city, they carry it there and sell it 
instantly; if, however, there are no Greeks among them, they 
throw the head into the river. The imprecation is to this effect: 
They pray that if any evil is impending either over those who 
sacrifice, or over universal Egypt, it may be made to fall upon 
that head. These practices, the imprecations upon the heads, 
and the libations of wine, prevail all over Egypt, and extend to 
victims of all sorts; and hence the Egyptians will never eat 
the head of any animal. 

40. The disembowelling and burning are, however, different 
in different sacrifices. I will mention the mode in use with 
respect to the goddess whom they regard as the greatest, 1 and 
honour with the chiefest festival. When they have flayed their 
steer they pray, and when their prayer is ended they take the 
paunch of the animal out entire, leaving the intestines and the 
fat inside the body; they then cut off the legs, the ends of the 
loins, the shoulders, and the neck; and having so done, they 
fill the body of the steer with clean bread, honey, raisins, figs, 
frankincense, myrrh, and other aromatics. 2 Thus filled, they 
burn the body, pouring over it great quantities of oil. Before 
offering the sacrifice they fast, and while the bodies of the victims 
are being consumed they beat themselves. Afterwards, when 
they have concluded this part of the ceremony, they have the 
other parts of the victim served up to them for a repast. 

day. Documents sealed with fine clay and impressed with a signet are 
very common; but the exact symbols impressed on it by the priest on this 
occasion are not known. 

1 Herodotus here evidently alludes to Isis, as he shows in chs. 59, 61, 
where he speaks of her fete at Busiris; but he afterwards confounds her 
with Athor (ch. 41). This is excusable in the historian, as the attributes 
of those two goddesses are often so closely connected that it is difficult to 
distinguish them in the sculptures, unless their names are specified. [In 
the Book of the Dead, Hathor is identified with Isis. E. H. B.J 

3 The custom of filling the body with cakes and various things, and then 
burning it all, calls to mind the Jewish burnt offering (Levit. viii. 25, 26). 

1 34 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

41. The male kine, therefore, if clean, and the male calves, 
are used for sacrifice by the Egyptians universally; but the 
females they are not allowed to sacrifice, 1 since they are sacred 
to Isis. The statue of this goddess has the form of a woman 
but with horns like a cow, resembling thus the Greek repre 
sentations of lo ; and the Egyptians, one and all, venerate cows 
much more highly than any other animal. This is the reason 
why no native of Egypt, whether man or woman, will give a 
Greek a kiss, 2 or use the knife of a Greek, or his spit, or his 
cauldron, or taste the flesh of an ox, known to be pure, if it has 
been cut with a Greek knife. When kine die, the following is 
the manner of their sepulture: The females are thrown into 
the river; the males are buried in the suburbs of the towns, 
with one or both of their horns appearing above the surface of 
the ground to mark the place. When the bodies are decayed, 
a boat comes, at an appointed time, from the island called 
Prosopitis, 3 which is a portion of the Delta, nine schcenes in 
circumference, and calls at the several cities in turn to collect 
the bones of the oxen. Prosopitis is a district containing several 
cities; the name of that from which the boats come is Atar- 
bechis. 4 Venus has a temple there of much sanctity. Great 
numbers of men go forth from this city and proceed to the 
other towns, where they dig up the bones, which they take away 
with them and bury together in one place. The same practice 
prevails with respect to the interment of all other cattle the 
law so determining; they do not slaughter any of them. 

42. Such Egyptians as possess a temple of the The ban Jove, 
or live in the Thebaic canton, offer no sheep in sacrifice, 5 but 
only goats; for the Egyptians do not all worship the same 

1 In order to prevent the breed of cattle from being diminished : but some 
mysterious reason being assigned for it, the people were led to respect an 
ordonnance which might not otherwise have been attended to. This was 
the general system, and the reason of many things being held sacred may 
be attributed to a necessary precaution. 

2 The Egyptians considered all foreigners unclean, with whom they would 
not eat, and particularly the Greeks. " The Egyptians might not eat bread 
with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians " (Gen. 
xliii. 32). 

3 .The island was between the Canopic and Sebennytic branches, at the 
fork, and on the west side of the apex of the Delta. It was there that the 
Athenians, who came to assist the Egyptians against the Persians, were 
besieged, B.C. 460-458. (Thucyd. i. 109). 

4 Athor being the Venus of Egypt, Atarbechis was translated Aphrodito- 

6 Sheep are never represented on the altar, or slaughtered for the table, at 
Thebes, though they were kept there for their wool. 

CHAP. 41-43. Egyptian Gods 135 

gods, 1 excepting Isis and Osiris, the latter of whom they say is the 
Grecian Bacchus. Those, on the contrary, who possess a temple 
dedicated to Mendes, 2 or belong to the Mendesian canton, 
abstain from offering goats, and sacrifice sheep instead. The 
Thebans, and such as imitate them in their practice, give the 
following account of the origin of the custom: "Hercules," 
they say, " wished of all things to see Jove, but Jove did not 
choose to be seen of him. At length, when Hercules persisted, 
Jove hit on a device to flay a ram, and, cutting off his head, 
hold the head before him, and cover himself with the fleece. 
In this guise he showed himself to Hercules." Therefore the 
Egyptians give their statues of Jupiter the face of a ram : 3 and 
from them the practice has passed to the Ammonians, who are 
a joint colony of Egyptians and Ethiopians, speaking a language 
between the two; hence also, in my opinion, the latter people 
took their name of Ammonians, since the Egyptian name for 
Jupiter is Amun. Sucn, then, is the reason why the Thebans 
do not sacrifice rams, but consider them sacred animals. Upon 
one day in the year, however, at the festival of Jupiter, they 
slay a single ram, and stripping off the fleece, cover with it the 
statue of that god, as he once covered himself, and then bring 
up to the statue of Jove an image of Hercules. When this has 
been done, the whole assembly beat their breasts in mourning 
for the ram, and afterwards bury him in a holy sepulchre. 

43. The account which I received of this Hercules makes him 
one of the twelve gods. 4 Of the other Hercules, with whom the 
Greeks are familiar, I could hear nothing in any part of Egypt. 
That the Greeks, however (those I mean who gave the son of 
Amphitryon that name), took the name 6 from the Egyptians, 
and not the Egyptians from the Greeks, 6 is I think clearly 

1 Though each city had its presiding deity, many others of neighbouring 
and of distant towns were also admitted to its temples as contemplar gods, 
and none were positively excluded except some local divinities, and certain 
animals, whose sanctity was confined to particular places. 

2 The mounds of Ashmoun, on the canal leading to Menzaleh, mark the 
site of Mendes. The Greeks considered Pan to be both Mendes and Khem. 

8 The god Noum (Nou, Noub, or Nef), with a ram s head, answered to 
Jupiter (Zeus). [See Renouf, Lectures on Egyptian Religion (1879), P* I 99 
E. H. B.] 

* The Egyptian Hercules was the abstract idea of divine power, and it is 
not therefore surprising that Herodotus could learn nothing of the Greek 
Hercules, who was a hero unknown in Egypt. 

6 Herodotus, who derived his knowledge of the Egyptian religion from 
the professional interpreters, seems to have regarded the word " Hercules " 
as Egyptian. It is scarcely necessary to say that no Egyptian god has a 
name from which that of Hercules can by any possibility have been formed. 

8 The tendency of the Greeks to claim an indigenous origin for the deities 

136 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

proved, among other arguments, by the fact that both the 
parents of Hercules, Amphitryon as well as Alcmena, were of 
Egyptian origin. Again, the Egyptians disclaim all knowledge 
of the names of Neptune and the Dioscuri, and do not include 
them in the number of their gods; but had they adopted 
the name of any god from the Greeks, these would have been 
the likeliest to obtain notice, since the Egyptians, as I am well 
convinced, practised navigation at that time, and the Greeks 
also were some of them mariners, so that they would have been 
more likely to know the names of these gods than that of 
Hercules. But the Egyptian Hercules is one of their ancient 
gods. Seventeen thousand years before the reign of Amasis, 
the twelve gods were, they affirm, produced from the eight: 
and of these twelve, Hercules is one. 

44. In the wish to get the best information that I could on 
these matters, I made a voyage to Tyre in Phoenicia, hearing 
there was a temple of Hercules at that place, 1 very highly 
venerated. I visited the temple, and found it richly adorned 
with a number of offerings, among which were two pillars, one 
of pure gold, the other of emerald, 2 shining with great brilliancy 
at night. In a conversation which I held with the priests, I 
inquired how long their temple had been built, and found bj 
their answer that they, too, differed from the Greeks. They 
said that the temple was built at the same time that the city 
was founded, and that the foundation of the city took place two 
thousand three hundred years ago. In Tyre I remarked another 
temple where the same god was worshipped as the Thasian 
Hercules. So I went on to Thasos, 3 where I found a temple of 
Hercules which had been built by the Phoenicians who colonised 
that island when they sailed in search of Europa. Even this 
was five generations earlier than the time when Hercules, son 
of Amphitryon, was born in Greece. These researches show 
plainly that there is an ancient god Hercules; and my own 

they borrowed from strangers, and to substitute physical for abstract 
beings, readily led them to invent the story of Hercules, and every dignus 
vindice nodus was cut by the interposition of his marvellous strength. 

1 The temple of Hercules at Tyre was very ancient, and, according to 
Herodotus, as old as the city itself, or 2300 years before his time, i.e. about 
2755 B.C. Hercules presided over it under the title of Melkarth, or Melek- 
Kartha, " king " (lord) of the city. 

2 It was probably of glass, which is known to have been made in Egypt at 
least 3800 years ago, having been found bearing the name of a Pharaoh 
of the i8th dynasty. 

8 Thasos, which still retains its name, is a small island off the Thracian 

CHAP. 44-47- HerCllleS 137 

opinion is, that those Greeks act most wisely who build and 
maintain two temples of Hercules, in the one of which the 
Hercules worshipped is known by the name of Olympian, and 
has sacrifice offered to him as an immortal, while in the other 
the honours paid are such as are due to a hero. 

45. The Greeks tell many tales without due investigation, 
and among them the following silly fable respecting Hercules: 
" Hercules," they say, " went once to Egypt, and there the 
inhabitants took him, and putting a chaplet on his head, led 
him out in solemn procession, intending to offer him a sacrifice 
to Jupiter. For a while he submitted quietly; but when they 
led him up to the altar and began the ceremonies, he put forth 
his strength and slew them all." Now to me it seems that such 
a story proves the Greeks to be utterly ignorant of the char 
acter and customs of the people. The Egyptians do not think 
it allowable even to sacrifice cattle, excepting sheep, and the 
male kine and calves, provided they be pure, and also geese. 
How, then, can it be believed that they would sacrifice men ? x 
And again, how would it have been possible for Hercules alone, 
and, as they confess, a mere mortal, to destroy so many thou 
sands? In saying thus much concerning these matters, may I 
incur no displeasure either of god or hero ! 

46. I mentioned above that some of the Egyptians abstain 
from sacrificing goats, either male or female. The reason is the 
following : These Egyptians, who are the Mendesians, consider 
Pan to be one of the eight gods who existed before the twelve, 
and Pan is represented in Egypt by the painters and the sculp 
tors, just as he is in Greece, with the face and legs of a goat. 
They do not, however, believe this to be his shape, or consider 
him in any respect unlike the other gods; but they represent 
him thus for a reason which I prefer not to relate. The Men 
desians hold all goats in veneration, but the male more than the 
female, giving the goatherds of the males especial honour. One 
is venerated more highly than all the rest, and when he dies 
there is a great mourning throughout all the Mendesian canton. 
In Egyptian, the goat and Pan are both called Mendes. 

47. The pig is regarded among them as an unclean animal, so 
much so that if a man in passing accidentally touch a pig, he 
instantly hurries to the river, and plunges in with all his clothes 

1 Herodotus here denies, with reason, the possibility of a people with 
laws, and a character like those of the Egyptians, having human sacrifices. 
This very aptly refutes the idle tales of some ancient authors. 

1 38 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

on. Hence, too, the swineherds, notwithstanding that they are 
of pure Egyptian blood, are forbidden to enter into any of the 
temples, which are open to all other Egyptians ; and further, no 
one will give his daughter in marriage to a swineherd, or take 
a wife from among them, so that the swineherds are forced to 
intermarry among themselves. They do not offer swine l in 
sacrifice to any of their gods, excepting Bacchus and the Moon, 
whom they honour in this way at the same time, sacrificing pigs 
to both of them at the same full moon, and afterwards eating of 
the flesh. There is a reason alleged by them for their detesta 
tion of swine at all other seasons, and their use of them at this 
festival, with which I am well acquainted, but which I do not 
think it proper to mention. The following is the mode in which 
they sacrifice the swine to the Moon: As soon as the victim is 
slain, the tip of the tail, the spleen, and the caul are put together, 
and having been covered with all the fat that has been found in 
the animal s belly, are straightway burnt. The remainder of 
the flesh is eaten on the same day that the sacrifice is offered, 
which is the day of the full moon: at any other time they 
would not so much as taste it. The poorer sort, who cannot 
afford live pigs, form pigs of dough, which they bake and offer 
in sacrifice. 

48. To Bacchus, on the eve of his feast, every Egyptian 
sacrifices a hog before the door of his house, which is then given 
back to the swineherd by whom it was furnished, and by him 
carried away. In other respects the festival is celebrated almost 
exactly as Bacchic festivals are in Greece, excepting that the 
Egyptians have no choral dances. They also use instead of 
phalli another invention, consisting of images a cubit high, 
pulled by strings, which the women carry round to the villages. 
A piper goes in front, 2 and the women fellow, singing hymns in 
honour of Bacchus. They give a religious reason for the 
peculiarities of the image. 

49. Melampus, the son of Amytheon, cannot (I think) have 
been ignorant of this ceremony nay, he must, I should con 
ceive, have been well acquainted with it. He it was who intro- 

1 The pig is rarely represented in the sculptures of Thebes. The flesh was 
forbidden to the priests, and to all initiated in the mysteries, and it seems 
only to have been allowed to others once a year at the fete of the full moon, 
when it was sacrificed to the Moon. The reason of the meat not being eaten 
was its unwholesomeness, on which account it was forbidden to the Jews 
and Moslems; and the prejudice naturally extended from the animal to 
those who kept it. 

* The instrument used was probably the double-pipe. 

CHAP. 48-50. M elam pus 139 

duced into Greece the name of Bacchus, the ceremonial cf his 
worship, and the procession of the phallus. He did not, how 
ever, so completely apprehend the whole doctrine as to be able 
to communicate it entirely, but various sages since his time have 
carried out his teaching to greater perfection. Still it is certain 
that Melampus introduced the phallus, and that the Greeks 
learnt from him the ceremonies which they now practise. I 
therefore maintain that Melampus, who was a wise man, and 
had acquired the art of divination, having become acquainted 
with the worship of Bacchus through knowledge derived from 
Egypt, introduced it into Greece, with a few slight changes, at 
the same time that he brought in various other practices. For 
I can by no means allow that it is by mere coincidence that the 
Bacchic ceremonies in Greece are so nearly the same as the 
Egyptian they would then have been more Greek in their 
character, and less recent in their origin. Much less can I 
admit that the Egyptians borrowed these customs, or any other, 
from the Greeks. My belief is that Melampus got his know 
ledge of them from Cadmus the Tyrian, and the followers whom 
he brought from Phoenicia into the country which is now called 

50. Almost all the names of the gods came into Greece from 
Egypt. 1 My inquiries prove that they were all derived from a 
foreign source, and my opinion is that Egypt furnished the 
greater number. For with the exception of Neptune and the 
Dioscuri, whom I mentioned above, and Juno, Vesta, Themis, 
the Graces, and the Nereids, the other gods have been known 
from time immemorial in Egypt. This I assert on the authority 
of the Egyptians themselves. The gods, with whose names 
they profess themselves unacquainted, the Greeks received, I 
believe, from the Pelasgi, except Neptune. Of him they got 
their knowledge from the Libyans, 2 by whom he has been 
always honoured, and who were anciently the only people that 
had a god of the name. The Egyptians differ from the Greeks 
also in paying no divine honours to heroes. 3 

1 There is no doubt that the Greeks borrowed sometimes the names, 
sometimes the attributes, of their deities from Egypt; but when Herodotus 
says the names of the Greek gods were always known in Egypt, it is evident 
that he does not mean they were the same as the Greek, <- ince he gives in 
other places (chs. 42, 59, 138, 144, 156) the Egyptian name to which 
those very gods agree, whom he mentions in Egypt. 

1 Cf. iv. 188. 

* No Egyptian god was supposed to have lived on earth as a mere man 
afterwards deified. The religion of the Egyptians was the worship of the 

140 The History of Herodotus BOOK n 

51. Besides these which have been here mentioned, there are 
many other practices whereof I shall speak hereafter, which the 
Greeks have borrowed from Egypt. 1 The peculiarity, however, 
which they observe in their statues of Mercury they did not 
derive from the Egyptians, but from the Pelasgi ; from them the 
Athenians first adopted it, and afterwards it passed from the 
Athenians to the other Greeks. For just at the time when the 
Athenians were entering into the Hellenic body, the Pelasgi 
came to live with them in their country, 2 whence it was that 
the latter came first to be regarded as Greeks. Whoever has 
been initiated into the mysteries of the Cabiri 8 will understand 
what I mean. The Samothracians received these mysteries 
from the Pelasgi, who, before they went to live in Attica, were 
dwellers in Samothrace, and imparted their religious ceremonies 
to the inhabitants. The Athenians, then, who were the first of 
all the Greeks to make their statues of Mercury in this way, 
learnt the practice from the Pelasgians; and by this people a 
religious account of the matter is given, which is explained in 
the Samothracian mysteries. 

52. In early times the Pelasgi, as I know by information 
which I got at Dodona, offered sacrifices of all kinds, and prayed 
to the gods, but had no distinct names or appellations for them, 
since they had never heard of any. They called them gods 
(0eot, disposers), because they had disposed and arranged all 
things in such a beautiful order. 4 After a long lapse of time 
the names of the gods came to Greece from Egypt, and the 
Pelasgi learnt them, only as yet they knew nothing of Bacchus, 
of whom they first heard at a much later date. Not long after 

Deity in all his attributes, and in those things which were thought to 
partake of his essence ; but they did not transfer a mortal man to his place, 
though they allowed a king to pay divine honours to a deceased predecessor, 
or even to himself, his human doing homage to his divine nature. 

1 Herodotus expressly gives it as his opinion that nearly all the names 
of the gods were derived from Egypt, and shows that their ceremonies 
(chs. 81, 82) and science come from the same source. 

2 The Pelasgi here intended are the Tyrrhenian Pelasgi, who are men 
tioned again, iv. 145, and vi. 138. 

3 Nothing is known for certain respecting the Cabiri. Most authorities 
agree, that they varied in number, and that their worship, which was very 
ancient in Samothrace and in Phrygia, was carried to Greece from the 
former by the Pelasgi. They were also worshipped at an early time in 
Lemnos and Imbros. 

* The same derivation is given by Eustathius and by Clement of Alex 
andria; but the more general belief of the Greeks derived the word Oebs 
from Bcw, " to run," because the gods first worshipped were the sun, 
moon, and stars. Both these derivations are purely fanciful. 

CHAP. 51-54. Origin of the Gods 141 

the arrival of the names they sent to consult the oracle at 
Dodona about them. This is the most ancient oracle in Greece, 
and at that time there was no other. To their question, 
" Whether they should adopt the names that had been imported 
from the foreigners ? " the oracle replied by recommending their 
use. Thenceforth in their sacrifices the Pelasgi made use of 
the names of the gods, and from them the names passed after 
wards to the Greeks. 

53. Whence the gods severally sprang, whether or no they 
had all existed from eternity, what forms they bore these are 
questions of which the Greeks knew nothing until the other day, 
so to speak. For Homer and Hesiod were the first to compose 
Theogonies, and give the gods their epithets, to allot them their 
several offices and occupations, and describe their forms; and 
they lived but four hundred years before my time, 1 as I believe. 
As for the poets who are thought by some to be earlier than 
these, 2 they are, in my judgment, decidedly later writers. In 
these matters I have the authority of the priestesses of Dodona 
for the former portion of my statements; what I have said of 
Homer and Hesiod is my own opinion. 

54. The following tale is commonly told in Egypt concerning 
the oracle of Dodona in Greece, and that of Ammon in Libya. 
My informants on the point were the priests of Jupiter at 
Thebes. They said " that two of the sacred women were once 
carried off from Thebes by the Phoenicians, 3 and that the story 
went that one of them was sold into Libya, and the other into 
Greece, and these women were the first founders of the oracles 
in the two countries." On my inquiring how they came to 
know so exactly what became of the women, they answered, 
" that diligent search had been made after them at the time, 
but that it had not been found possible to discover where they 

1 The date of Homer has been variously stated. It is plain from the 
expressions which Herodotus here uses that in his time the general belief 
assigned to Homer an earlier date than that which he considered the true 
one. His date would place the poet about B.C. 880-830, which is very 
nearly the mean between the earliest and the latest epochs that are assigned 
to him. The time of Hesiod is even more doubtful, if possible, than that 
of his brother-poet. He was made before Homer, after him, and contem 
porary with him. Internal evidence and the weight of authority are in 
favour of the view which assigns him a comparatively late date. 

2 The " poets thought by some to be earlier than Homer and Hesiod " 
are probably the mystic writers, Olen, Linus, Orpheus, Musaeus, Pamphos, 
Olympus, etc., who were generally accounted by the Greeks anterior to 
Homer, but seem really to have belonged to a later age. 

3 This carrying off priestesses from Thebes is of course a fable. 

142 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

were ; afterwards, however, they received the information which 
they had given me." 

55. This was what I heard from the priests at Thebes; at 
Dodona, however, the women who deliver the oracles relate the 
matter as follows: " Two black doves flew away from Egyptian 
Thebes, and while one directed its flight to Libya, the other 
came to them. 1 She alighted on an oak, and sitting there began 
to speak with a human voice, and told them that on the spot 
where she was, there should thenceforth be an oracle of Jove. 
They understood the announcement to be from heaven, so they 
set to work at once and erected the shrine. The dove which 
flew to Libya bade the Libyans to establish there the oracle of 
Ammon." This likewise is an oracle of Jupiter. The persons 
from whom I received these particulars were three priestesses 
of the Dodonaeans, the eldest Promeneia, the next Timarete, 
and the youngest Nicandra what they said was confirmed by 
the other Dodonaeans who dwell around the temple. 2 

56. My own opinion of these matters is as follows: I think 
that, if it be true that the Phoenicians carried off the holy 
women, and sold them for slaves, 3 the one into Libya and the 
other into Greece, or Pelasgia (as it was then called), this last 
must have been sold to the Thesprotians. Afterwards, while 
undergoing servitude in those parts, she built under a real oak 
a temple to Jupiter, her thoughts in her new abode reverting 
as it was likely they would do, if she had been an attendant in 
a temple of Jupiter at Thebes to that particular god. Then, 
having acquired a knowledge of the Greek tongue, she set up an 
oracle. She also mentioned that her sister had been sold for a 
slave into Libya by the same persons as herself. 

57. The Dodonaeans called the women doves because they 
were foreigners, and seemed to them to make a noise like birds. 
After a while the dove spoke with a human voice, because the 
woman, whose foreign talk had previously sounded to them like 
the chattering of a bird, acquired the power of speaking what 
they could understand. For how can it be conceived possible 
that a dove should really speak with the voice of a man? 
Lastly, by calling the dove black the Dodonaeans indicated that 

1 The idea of women giving out oracles is Greek, not Egyptian. 

The Temple of Dodona was destroyed B.C. 219 by Dorimachus when, 
being chosen general of the ^tolians, he ravaged Epirus. (Potyb. iv. 67.) 
No remains of it now exist. 

8 Cf. Joel iii. 6, where the Tyrians are said to have sold Jewish children 
" to the Grecians." [R.V. " Sons of the Grecians," i.e. men of Greek 
descent. E. H. B.] 

CHAP. 55-60. Solemn Assemblies 143 

the woman was an Egyptian. And certainly the character of 
the oracles at Thebes and Dodona is very similar. Besides this 
form of divination, the Greeks learnt also divination by means 
of victims from the Egyptians. 

58. The Egyptians were also the first to introduce solemn 
assemblies, 1 processions, and litanies to the gods; of all which 
the Greeks were taught the use by them. It seems to me a 
sufficient proof of this, that in Egypt these practices have been 
established from remote antiquity, while in Greece they are 
only recently known. 

59. The Egyptians do not hold a single solemn assembly, but 
several in the course of the year. Of these the chief, which is 
better attended than any other, is held at the city of Bubastis s 
in honour of Diana. 3 The next in importance is that which 
takes place at Busiris, a city situated in the very middle of the 
Delta ; it is in honour of Isis, who is called in the Greek tongue 
Demeter (Ceres). There is a third great festival in Sais to 
Minerva, a fourth in Heliopolis to the Sun, a fifth in Buto 4 to 
Latona, and a sixth in Papremis to Mars. 

60. The following are the proceedings on occasion of the 
assembly at Bubastis: Men and women come sailing all to 
gether, vast numbers in each boat, many of the women with 
castanets, which they strike, while some of the men pipe during 
the whole time of the voyage; the remainder of the voyagers, 
male and female, sing the while, and make a clapping with their 
hands. When they arrive opposite any of the towns upon the 
banks of the stream, they approach the shore, and, while some 
of the women continue to play and sing, others call aloud to the 
females of the place and load them with abuse, while a certain 
number dance, and some standing up uncover themselves. 
After proceeding in this way all along the river-course, they 
reach Bubastis, where they celebrate the feast with abundant 

1 " Solemn assemblies " were numerous in Egypt, and were of various 
kinds. The grand assemblies, or great panegyrics, were held in the large 
halls of the principal temples, and the king presided at them in person. 
There were inferior panegyrics in honour of different deities every day 
during certain months. 

8 Bubastis, or Pasht, corresponded to the Greek Artemis. Remains of 
the temple and city of Bubastis, the " Pibeseth (Pi-basth) of Ezekiel 
xxx. 17, are still seen at Tel Basta, " the mounds of Pasht." [See En 
cyclopedia Biblica, vol. iii., s.v. PIBESETH. Bubastis was the centre of 
Egyptian cat-worship. E. H. B.] 

3 Herodotus (infra, ch. 156) supposes her the daughter of Bacchus 
(Osiris) and Isis, which is, of course, an error, as Osiris had no daughter. 

* The Goddess mentioned at Bubastis should be Buto. 

I4Q5 F 

144 The History of Herodotus BOOK n 

sacrifices. More grape-wine x is consumed at this festival than 
in all the rest of the year besides. The number of those who 
attend, counting only the men and women and omitting the 
children, amounts, according to the native reports, to seven 
hundred thousand. 

61. The ceremonies at the feast of Isis in the city of Busiris 2 
have been already spoken of. It is there that the whole multi 
tude, both of men and women, many thousands in number, beat 
themselves at the close of the sacrifice, in honour of a god, 
whose name a religious scruple forbids me to mention. 3 The 
Carian dwellers in Egypt proceed on this occasion to still 
greater lengths, even cutting their faces with their knives/ 
whereby they let it be seen that they are not Egyptians but 

62. At Sais, 5 when the assembly takes place for the sacrifices, 
there is one night on which the inhabitants all burn a multitude 
of lights in the open air round their houses. They use lamps 
in the shape of flat saucers filled with a mixture of oil and salt, 6 
on the top of which the wick floats. These burn the whole 
night, and give to the festival the name of the Feast of Lamps. 
The Egyptians who are absent from the festival observe the 
night of the sacrifice, no less than the rest, by a general lighting 
of lamps; so that the illumination is not confined to the city of 
Sais, but extends over the whole of Egypt. And there is a 
religious reason assigned for the special honour paid to this 
night, as well as for the illumination which accompanies it. 

63. At Heliopolis and Buto the assemblies are merely for the 
purpose of sacrifice; but at Papremis, 7 besides the sacrifices 

1 This is to be distinguished from beer, olvos KpiOwos, " barley-wine," 
both of which were made in great quantities in Egypt. 

a There were several places called Busiris in Egypt. It signifies the burial 
place of Osiris. The Busiris mentioned by Herodotus stood [in the Delta] 
a little to the S. of the modern Aboosecr, the Coptic Busiri, of which 
nothing now remains but some granite blocks. 

* This was Osiris. 

* The custom of cutting themselves was not Egyptian ; and it is there 
fore evident that the command in Leviticus (xix. 28; xxi. 5) against 
making " any cuttings in then* flesh " was not directed against a custom 
derived from Egypt, but from Syria, where the worshippers of Baal " cut 
themselves after their manner with knives and lances," i Kings xviii. 28. 

6 The site of Sais is marked by lofty mounds, enclosing a space of great 

6 The oil floated on water mixed with salt. 

7 Papremis is not known in the sculptures as the name of the Egyptian 
Mars; ancl it may only have been that of the city, the capital of a nome 
(ch. 165) which stood between the modern Menzaleh and Damietta in the 

CHAP. 61-64. Festival at Papremis 145 

and other rites which are performed there as elsewhere, the fol 
lowing custom is observed : When the sun is getting low, a few 
only of the priests continue occupied about the image of the 
god, while the greater number, armed with wooden clubs, take 
their station at the portal of the temple. Opposite to them is 
drawn up a body of men, in number above a thousand, armed, 
like the others, with clubs, consisting of persons engaged in the 
performance of their vows. The image of the god, which is kept 
in a small wooden shrine covered with plates of gold, is con 
veyed from the temple into a second sacred building the day 
before the festival begins. The few priests still in attendance 
upon the image place it, together with the shrine containing it, 
on a four-wheeled car, and begin to drag it along; the others, 
stationed at the gateway of the temple, oppose its admission. 
Then the votaries come forward to espouse the quarrel of the 
god, and set upon the opponents, who are sure to offer resistance. 
A sharp fight with clubs ensues, in which heads are commonly 
broken on both sides. Many, I am convinced, die of the wounds 
that they receive, though the Egyptians insist that no one is 
ever killed. 

64. The natives give the subjoined account of this festival. 
They say that the mother of the god Mars once dwelt in the 
temple. Brought up at a distance from his parent, when he 
grew to man s estate he conceived a wish to visit her. Accord 
ingly he came, but the attendants, who had never seen him 
before, refused him entrance, and succeeded in keeping him out. 
So he went to another city and collected a body of men, with 
whose aid he handled the attendants very roughly, and forced 
his way in to his mother. Hence they say arose the custom of 
a fight with sticks in honour of Mars at this festival. 

The Egyptians first made it a point of religion to have no 
converse with women in the sacred places, and not to enter 
them without washing, after such converse. Almost all other 
nations, except the Greeks and the Egyptians, act differently, 
regarding man as in this matter under no other law than the 
brutes. Many animals, they say, and various kinds of birds, 
may be seen to couple in the temples and the sacred precincts, 
which would certainly not happen if the gods were displeased 

Delta. It was here that Inaros routed the Persians (infra, iii. 12); and it 
is remarkable that in this very island, formed by the old Mendesian and 
the modern Damietta branches, the Crusaders were defeated in 1220, and 
again in 1249, when Louis IX. was taken prisoner. 

146 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

at it. Such are the arguments by which they defend their 
practice, but I nevertheless can by no means approve of it. In 
these points the Egyptians are specially careful, as they are 
indeed in everything which concerns their sacred edifices. 

65. Egypt, though it borders upon Libya, is not a region 
abounding in wild animals. 1 The animals that do exist in the 
country, whether domesticated or otherwise, are all regarded as 
sacred. If I were to explain why they are consecrated to the 
several gods, I should be led to speak of religious matters, which 
I particularly shrink from mentioning; the points whereon I 
have touched slightly hitherto have all been introduced from 
sheer necessity. Their custom with respect to animals is as 
follows : For every kind there are appointed certain guardians, 
some male, some female, 2 whose business it is to look after 
them; and this honour is made to descend from father to son. 
The inhabitants of the various cities, when they have made a 
vow to any god, pay it to his animals in the way which I will 
now explain. At the time of making the vow they shave the 
head of the child, 3 cutting off all the hair, or else half, or some 
times a third part, which they then weigh in a balance against 
a sum of silver; and whatever sum the hair weighs is presented 
to the guardian of the animals, who thereupon cuts up some fish, 
and gives it to them for food such being the stuff whereon 
they are fed. When a man has killed one of the sacred animals, 
if he did it with malice prepense, he is punished with death; 4 
if unwittingly, he has to pay such a fine as the priests choose to 

1 This was thought to be extraordinary, because Africa abounded in 
wild animals (infra, iv. 191-2); but it was on the west and south, and not 
on the confines of Egypt, that they were numerous. Though Herodotus 
abstains from saying why the Egyptians held some animals sacred, he 
explains it in some degree by observing that Egypt did not abound in 
animals. It was therefore found necessary to ensure the preservation of 
some, as in the case of cows and sheep; others were sacred in consequence 
of their being unwholesome food, as swine, and certain fish; and others 
from their utility in destroying noxious reptiles, as the cat, ichneumon, 
ibis, vulture, and falcon tribe: or for some particular purpose, as the 
crocodile was sacred in places distant from the Nile, where the canals 
required keeping up. 

1 Women were probably employed to give the food to many of the 
animals; but the curators appear to have been men of the sacerdotal 

J Though Egyptian men shaved their heads, boys had several tufts of 
hair left, as in modern Egypt and China. Princes also wore a long plaited 
lock, falling from near the top of the head, behind the ear, to the neck. 

4 The law was, as Herodotus says, against a person killing them on, 
purpose, but the prejudiced populace in after times did not always keep 
within the law. 

CHAP. 65-68. Burial of Animals 147 

impose. When an ibis, however, or a hawk is killed, whether it 
was done by accident or on purpose, the man must needs die. 

66. The number of domestic animals in Egypt is very great, 
and would be still greater were it not for what befalls the cats. 
As the females, when they have kittened, no longer seek the 
company of the males, these last, to obtain once more their 
companionship, practise a curious artifice. They seize the 
kittens, carry them off, and kill them, but do not eat them 
afterwards. Upon this the females, being deprived of their 
young, and longing to supply their place, seek the males once 
more, since they are particularly fond of their offspring. On 
every occasion of a fire in Egypt the strangest prodigy occurs 
with the cats. The inhabitants allow the fire to rage as it 
pleases, while they stand about at intervals and watch these 
animals, which, slipping by the men or else leaping over them, 
rush headlong into the flames. When this happens, the Egyp 
tians are in deep affliction. If a cat dies in a private house by 
a natural death, all the inmates of the house shave their eye 
brows; on the death of a dog they shave the head and the 
whole of the body. 

67. The cats on their decease are taken to the city of Bubastis, 1 
where they are embalmed, after which they are buried in certain 
sacred repositories. The dogs are interred in the cities to which 
they belong, also in sacred burial-places. The same practice 
obtains with respect to the ichneumons; 2 the hawks and shrew- 
mice, on the contrary, are conveyed to the city of Buto for 
burial, and the ibises 3 to Hermopolis. The bears, which are 
scarce in Egypt, 4 and the wolves, which are not much bigger 
than foxes, 6 they bury wherever they happen to find them lying. 

68. The following are the peculiarities of the crocodile: 
During the four winter months they eat nothing; 6 they are 

1 Cats were embalmed and buried where they died, except perhaps in the 
neighbourhood of Bubastis; for we find their mummies at Thebes and 
other Egyptian towns, and the same may be said of hawks and ibises. 

! The vwerra ichneumon is still very common in Egypt. 
These birds were sacred to Thoth, the god of letters. 

* It is very evident that bears were not natives of Egypt; they arc not 
represented among the animals of the country; and no instance occurs of a 
bear in the sculptures, except as a curiosity brought by foreigners. 

1 Herodotus is quite correct in saying that wolves in Egypt were scarcely 
larger than foxes. It is singular that he omits all mention of the hyaena, 
which is so common in the country, and which is represented in the sculp 
tures of Upper and Lower Egypt. 

J If the crocodile rarely comes out of the river in the cold weather, because 
it finds the water warmer than the external air at that season, there is 

148 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

four-footed, and live indifferently on land or in the water. The 
female lays and hatches her eggs ashore, passing the greater 
portion of the day on dry land, but at night retiring to the 
river, the water of which is warmer than the night-air and the 
dew. Of all known animals this is the one which from the 
smallest size grows to be the greatest: for the egg of the croco 
dile is but little bigger than that of the goose, and the young 
crocodile is in proportion to the egg ; yet when it is full grown, 
the animal measures frequently seventeen cubits and even 
more. It has the eyes of a pig, teeth large and tusk-like, of a 
size proportioned to its frame; unlike any other animal, it is 
without a tongue; it cannot move its under-jaw, and in this 
respect too it is singular, being the only animal in the world 
which moves the upper- jaw but not the under. It has strong 
claws and a scaly skin, impenetrable upon the back. In the 
water it is blind, but on land it is very keen of sight. As it 
lives chiefly in the river, it has the inside of its mouth constantly 
covered with leeches; hence it happens that, while all the other 
birds and beasts avoid it, with the trochilus it lives at peace, 
since it owes much to that bird: for the crocodile, when he 
leaves the water and comes out upon the land, is in the habit 
of lying with his mouth wide open, facing the western breeze: 
at such times the trochilus goes into his mouth and devours 
the leeches. This benefits the crocodile, who is pleased, and 
takes care not to hurt the trochilus. 

69. The crocodile is esteemed sacred by some of the Egyp 
tians, by others he is treated as an enemy. Those who live 
near Thebes, and those who dwell around Lake Mceris, regard 
them with especial veneration. In each of these places they 
keep one crocodile in particular, who is taught to be tame and 
tractable. They adorn his ears l with ear-rings of molten stone 2 
or gold, and put bracelets on his fore-paws, giving him daily a 
set portion of bread, with a certain number of victims; and, 

no reason to believe it remains torpid all that time, though, like all the 
lizard tribe, it can exist a long time without eating, and I have known 
them live in a house for three months without food, sleeping most of the 
time. The story of the friendly offices of the Trochilus appears to be 
derived from that bird s uttering a shrill note as it flies away on the 
approach of man, and (quite unintentionally) warning the crocodile of 

1 The crocodile s ears are merely small openings without any flesh pro 
jecting beyond the head. 

2 By molten stone seems to be meant glass, which was well known to the 

CHAP. 69-73. The Hippopotamus 149 

after having thus treated him with the greatest possible atten 
tion while alive, they embalm him when he dies and bury him 
in a sacred repository. The people of Elephantin6, on the other 
hand, are so far from considering these animals as sacred that 
they even eat their flesh. In the Egyptian language they are 
not called crocodiles, but Champsae. The name of crocodiles 
was given them by the lonians, who remarked their resemblance 
to the lizards, which in Ionia live in the walls, and are called 
crocodiles. 1 

70. The modes of catching the crocodile are many and 
various. I shall only describe the one which seems to me most 
worthy of mention. They bait a hook with a chine of pork 
and let the meat be carried out into the middle of the stream, 
while the hunter upon the bank holds a living pig, which he 
belabours. The crocodile hears its cries, and, making for the 
sound, encounters the pork, which he instantly swallows down. 
The men on the shore haul, and when they have got him to 
land, the first thing the hunter does is to plaster his eyes with 
mud. This once accomplished, the animal is despatched with 
ease, otherwise he gives great trouble. 

71. The hippopotamus, 2 in the canton of Papremis, is a sacred 
animal, but not in any other part of Egypt. It may be thus 
described : It is a quadruped, cloven-footed, with hoofs like an 
ox, and a flat nose. It has the mane and tail of a horse, huge 
tusks which are very conspicuous, and a voice like a horse s 
neigh. In size it equals the biggest oxen, and its skin is so 
tough that when dried it is made into javelins. 

72. Otters also are found in the Nile, and are considered 
sacred. Only two sorts of fish are venerated, 3 that called the 
lepidotus and the eel. These are regarded as sacred to the 
Nile, as likewise among birds is the vulpanser, or fox-goose. 4 

73. They have also another sacred bird called the phoenix, 
which I myself have never seen, except in pictures. Indeed it 
is a great rarity, even in Egypt, only coming there (according 

1 KpoK<5$etXos was the term given by the lonians to lizards, as the 
Portuguese al legato " the lizard is the origin of our alligator. The 
lonians are here the descendants of the Ionian soldiers of Psammetichus. 

a This animal was formerly common in Egypt, but is now rarely seen as 
low as the second cataract. The description of the hippopotamus by 
Herodotus is far from correct. 

3 The fish particularly sacred were the Oxyrhinchus, the Lepidotus, and 
the Phagrus or eel. 

* This goose of the Nile was an emblem of the God Seb, the father of 
Osiris; but it was not a sacred bird. 

150 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

to the accounts of the people of Heliopolis) once in five hundred 
years, when the old phoenix dies. Its size and appearance, if it 
is like the pictures, are as follow: The plumage is partly 
red, partly golden, while the general make and size are almost 
exactly that of the eagle. They tell a story of what this bird 
does, which does not seem to me to be credible: that he comes 
all the way from Arabia, and brings the parent bird, all plastered 
over with myrrh, to the temple of the Sun, and there buries the 
body. In order to bring him, they say, he first forms a ball of 
myrrh as big as he finds that he can carry ; then he hollows out 
the ball, and puts his parent inside, after which he covers over 
the opening with fresh myrrh, and the ball is then of exactly 
the same weight as at first; so he brings it to Egypt, plastered 
over as I have said, and deposits it in the temple of the Sun. 
Such is the story they tell of the doings of this bird. 

74. In the neighbourhood of Thebes there are some sacred 
serpents x which are perfectly harmless. 2 They are of small 
size, and have two horns growing out of the top of the head. 
These snakes, when they die, are buried in the temple of Jupiter, 
the god to whom they are sacred. 

75. I went once to a certain place in Arabia, almost exactly 
opposite the city of Buto, to make inquiries concerning the 
winged serpents. 3 On my arrival I saw the back-bones and ribs 
of serpents in such numbers as it is impossible to describe: of 
the ribs there were a multitude of heaps, some great, some 
small, some middle-sized. The place where the bones lie is at 
the entrance of a narrow gorge between steep mountains, which 
there open upon a spacious plain communicating with the great 
plain of Egypt. The story goes, that with the spring the winged 
snakes come flying from Arabia towards Egypt, but are met in 
this gorge by the birds called ibises, who forbid their entrance 
and destroy them all. The Arabians assert, and the Egyptians 
also admit, that it is on account of the service thus rendered 
that the Egyptians hold the ibis in so much reverence. 

76. The ibis is a bird of a deep-black colour, with legs like a 

1 The horned snake, vipera cerastes, is common in Upper Egypt and 
throughout the deserts. It is very poisonous, and its habit of burying 
itself in the sand renders it particularly dangerous. 

2 The bite of the cerastes or horned snake is deadly ; but of the many 
serpents in Egypt, three only are poisonous the cerastes, the asp or naia, 
and the common viper. 

8 The winged serpents of Herodotus have puzzled many persons from the 
time of Pausanias to the present day. Isaiah (xxx. 6) mentions the " fiery 
flying serpent." 

CHAP. 74-77. The Egyptians 1 5 1 

crane ; its beak is strongly hooked, and its size is about that of 
the landrail. This is a description of the black ibis which con 
tends with the serpents. The commoner sort, for there are two 
quite distinct species, 1 has the head and the whole throat bare 
of feathers; its general plumage is white, but the head and 
neck are jet black, as also are the tips of the wings and the 
extremity of the tail ; in its beak and legs it resembles the other 
species. The winged serpent is shaped like the water-snake. 
Its wings are not feathered, but resemble very closely those of 
the bat. And thus I conclude the subject of the sacred animals. 
77. With respect to the Egyptians themselves, it is to be 
remarked that those who live in the corn country, 2 devoting 
themselves, as they do, far more than any other people in the 
world, to the preservation of the memory of past actions, are 
the best skilled in history of any men that I have ever met. 
The following is the mode of life habitual to them : For three 
successive days in each month they purge the body by means 
of emetics and clysters, which is done out of a regard for their 
health, since they have a persuasion that every disease to which 
men are liable is occasioned by the substances whereon they 
feed. Apart from any such precautions, they are, I believe, 
next to the Libyans, 3 the healthiest people in the world an 
effect of their climate, in my opinion, which has no sudden 
changes. Diseases almost always attack men when they are 
exposed to a change, and never more than during changes of 
the weather. They live on bread made of spelt, which they 
form into loaves called in their own tongue cyllestis. Their 

1 The great services the ibis rendered by destroying snakes and noxious 
injects were the cause of its being in such esteem in Egypt. The stork 
was honoured for the same reason in Thessaly. The ibis was sacred to 
Thoth, the Egyptian Hermes. 

8 This is in contradistinction to the marsh-lands, and signifies Upper 
Egypt; but when he says they have no vines in the country and only 
drink beer, his statement is opposed to fact, and to the ordinary habits 
of the Egyptians. In the neighbourhood of Memphis, at Thebes, and the 
places between those two cities, as well as at Eileithyias, all corn- growing 
districts, they ate wheaten bread and cultivated the vine. Herodotus 
may, therefore, have had in view the corn-country, in the interior of the 
broad Delta, where the alluvial soil was not well suited to the vine. Wine 
was universally used by the rich throughout Egypt, and beer supplied its 
place at the tables of the poor, not because " they had no vines in their 
country," but because it was cheaper. And that wine was known in Lower 
as well as Upper Egypt is shown by the Israelites mentioning the desert 
as a place which had " no figs, or vines, or pomegranates " in contradistinc 
tion to Egypt (Gen. xl. 10; Numb. xx. 5). 

3 Their health was attributable to their living in the dry atmosphere of 
the desert, where sickness is rarely known. 

4<>5 *F 

152 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

drink is a wine which they obtain from barley, 1 as they have 
no vines in their country. Many kinds of fish they eat raw, 
either salted or dried in the sun. 2 Quails also, and ducks and 
small birds, they eat uncooked, merely first salting them. All 
other birds and fishes, excepting those which are set apart as 
sacred, are eaten either roasted or boiled. 

78. In social meetings among the rich, when the banquet is 
ended, a servant carries round to the several guests a coffin, in 
which there is a wooden image of a corpse, 3 carved and painted 
to resemble nature as nearly as possible, about a cubit or two 
cubits in length. As he shows it to each guest in turn, the 
servant says, " Gaze here, and drink and be merry; for when 
you die, such will you be." 

79. The Egyptians adhere to their own national customs, and 
adopt no foreign usages. Many of these customs are worthy of 
note: among others their song, the Linus, 4 which is sung under 
various names not only in Egypt but in Phoenicia, in Cyprus, 
and in other places; and which seems to be exactly the same 
as that in use among the Greeks, and by them called Linus. 
There were very many things in Egypt which filled me with 
astonishment, and this was one of them. Whence could the 
Egyptians have got the Linus? It appears to have been 
sung by them from the very earliest times. For the Linus in 
Egyptian is called Maneros; and they told me that Maneros 
was the only son of their first king, and that on his untimely 
death he was honoured by the Egyptians with these dirgelike 
strains, and in this way they got their first and only melody. 

80. There is another custom in which the Egyptians resemble 
a particular Greek people, namely the Lacedaemonians. Their 
young men, when they meet their elders in the streets, give 
way to them and step aside ; 5 and if an elder come in where 
young men are present, these latter rise from their seats. In a 

1 This is the olvos KptBwos of Xenophon. 

a The custom of drying fish is frequently represented in the sculptures 
of Upper and Lower Egypt. Fishing was a favourite amusement of the 

3 The figure introduced at supper was of a mummy in the usual form 
of Osiris, either standing, or lying on a bier, intended to warn the guests of 
their mortality. 

4 This song had different names in Egypt, hi Phoenicia, in Cyprus, and 
other places. In Greece it was called Linus, in Egypt Maneros. The 
stories told of Linus, the inventor of melody, and of his death, are mere 

5 A similar respect is paid to age by the Chinese and Japanese, and even 
by the modern Egyptians. In this the Greeks, except the Lacedaemonians, 

CHAP. 78-83. Divination 153 

third point they differ entirely from all the nations of Greece. 
Instead of speaking to each other when they meet in the streets, 
they make an obeisance, sinking the hand to the knee. 

81. They wear a linen tunic fringed about the legs, and called 
calasiris ; over this they have a white woollen garment thrown 
on afterwards. Nothing of woollen, however, is taken into their 
temples or buried with them, as their religion forbids it. Here 
their practice resembles the rites called Orphic and Bacchic, 
but which are in reality Egyptian and Pythagorean ; for no one 
initiated in these mysteries can be buried in a woollen shroud, 
a religious reason being assigned for the observance. 

82. The Egyptians likewise discovered to which of the gods 
each month and day is sacred ; * and found out from the day of 
a man s birth, what he will meet with in the course of his life,* 
and how he will end his days, and what sort of man he will be 
discoveries whereof the Greeks engaged in poetry have made 
a use. The Egyptians have also discovered more prognostics 
than all the rest of mankind besides. Whenever a prodigy 
takes place, they watch and record the result; then, if anything 
similar ever happens again, they expect the same conse 

83. With respect to divination, they hold that it is a gift 
which no mortal possesses, but only certain of the gods: 8 thus 
they have an oracle of Hercules, one of Apollo, of Minerva, of 
Diana, of Mars, and of Jupiter. Besides these, there is the 
oracle of Latona at Buto, which is held in much higher repute 
than any of the rest. The mode of delivering the oracles is not 
uniform, but varies at the different shrines. 

were wanting. The Jews were commanded to " rise up before the hoary 
head and honour the face of the old man " (Levit. rix. 32). 

1 The Romans also made their twelve gods preside over the months ; 
and the days of the week, when introduced in late times, received the names 
of the sun and moon and five planets, which have been retained to the 
present day. 

8 Horoscopes were of very early use in Egypt, as well as the interpretation 
of dreams; and Cicero speaks of the Egyptians and Chaldees predicting 
future events, as well as a man s destiny at his birth, by their observations 
of the stars. 

* Yet the Egyptians sought " to the idols, and to the charmers, and to 
them that had familiar spirits, and to the wizards " (Is. xix. 3). Herodotus 
probably means that none but oracles gave the real answer of the deity; 
and this would not prevent the " prophets " and " magicians " pretending 
to this art, like the fjt,dvris of Greece. To the Israelites it was particularly 
forbidden " to use divination, to be an observer of times, or an enchanter, 
or a witch, or a charmer, or a consult er with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or 
a necromancer." 

1 54 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

84. Medicine is practised among them l on a plan of separa 
tion; each physician treats a single disorder, and no more: 2 
thus the country swarms with medical practitioners, some 
undertaking to cure diseases of the eye, others of the head, 
others again of the teeth, others of the intestines, and some 
those which are not local. 

85. The following is the way in which they conduct their 
mournings 3 and their funerals : On the death in any house of 
a man of consequence, forthwith the women of the family be- 
plaster their heads, and sometimes even their faces, with mud; 
and then, leaving the body indoors, sally forth and wander 
through the city, with their dress fastened by a band, and their 
bosoms bare, beating themselves as they walk. All the female 
relations join them and do the same. The men too, similarly 
begirt, beat their breasts separately. When these ceremonies 
are over, the body is carried away to be embalmed. 

86. There are a set of men in Egypt who practice the art of 
embalming, and make it their proper business. These persons, 
when a body is brought to them, show the bearers various 
models of corpses, 4 made in wood, and painted so as to resemble 

1 Not only was the study of medicine of very early date in Egypt, but 
medical men there were in such repute that they were sent for at various 
times from other countries. Their knowledge of medicine is celebrated 
by Homer (Od. iv. 229), who describes Polydamna, the wife of Thonis, as 
giving medicinal plants " to Helen, in Egypt, a country producing an 
infinite number of drugs . . . where each physician possesses knowledge 
above all other men." " O virgin daughter of Egypt," says Jeremiah 
(Ixvi. n), " in vain shalt thou use many medicines." Cyrus and Darius 
both sent to Egypt for medical men (Her. iii. i, 132); and Pliny (xix. 5) 
says post-mortem examinations were made in order to discover the nature 
of maladies. [Cf. Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt, pp. 377 sqq. E. H. B.] 

2 The medical profession being so divided (as is the custom in modern 
Europe), indicates a great advancement of civilisation, as well as of 
medicinal knowledge. The Egyptian doctors were of the sacerdotal order, 
like the embalmers, who are called (in Genesis 1. 2) " Physicians," and were 
" commanded by Joseph to embalm his father." 

3 The custom of weeping, and throwing dust on their heads, is often 
represented on the monuments; when the men and women have their 
dresses fastened by a band round the waist, the breast being bare, as 
described by Herodotus. For seventy days (Gen. 1. 3), or, according to 
some, seventy-two days, the family mourned at home, singing the funeral 

4 These were in the form of Osiris, and not only those of the best kind, 
but all the mummies were put up in the same position, representing the 
deceased as a figure of Osiris, those only excepted which were of the very 
poor people, and which were merely wrapped up in mats, or some other 
common covering. Even the small earthenware and other figures of the 
dead were in the same form of that Deity, whose name Herodotus, as usual, 
had scruples about mentioning, from having been admitted to a participa 
tion of the secrets of the lesser Mysteries. 

CHAP. 84-87. Embalming 155 

nature. The most penect is said to be after the manner of him 
whom I do not think it religious to name in connection with 
such a matter; the second sort is inferior to the first, and less 
costly ; the third is the cheapest of all. All this the embalmers 
explain, and then ask in which way it is wished that the corpse 
should be prepared. The bearers tell them, and having con 
cluded their bargain, take their departure, while the embalmers, 
left to themselves, proceed to their task. The mode of embalm 
ing, according to the most perfect process, is the following: 
They take first a crooked piece of iron, 1 and with it draw out 
the brain through the nostrils, thus getting rid of a portion, 
while the skull is cleared of the rest by rinsing with drugs; 
next they make a cut along the flank with a sharp Ethiopian 
stone, 2 and take out the whole contents of the abdomen, which 
they then cleanse, washing it thoroughly with palm wine, and 
again frequently with an infusion of pounded aromatics. After 
this they fill the cavity with the purest bruised myrrh, with 
cassia, and every other sort of spicery 3 except frankincense, 
and sew up the opening. Then the body is placed in natrum 4 
for seventy days, and covered entirely over. After the expira 
tion of that space of time, which must not be exceeded, the 
body is washed, and wrapped round, from head to foot, with 
bandages of fine linen cloth, 5 smeared over with gum, which is 
used generally by the Egyptians in the place of glue, and in this 
state it is given back to the relations, who enclose it in a wooden 
case which they have had made for the purpose, shaped into 
the figure of a man. Then fastening the case, they place it in 
a sepulchral chamber, upright against the wall. Such is the 
most costly way of embalming the dead. 

87. If persons wish to avoid expense, and choose the second 

1 The mummies afford ample evidence of the brain having been extracted 
through the nostrils; and the " drugs " were employed to clear out what 
the instrument could not touch. 

a Ethiopian stone either is black flint, or an Ethiopian agate, the use of 
which was the remnant of a very primitive custom. [An embalming 
knife, used for this one purpose only: see King and Hall s Egypt and W. 
Asia in the Light of Modern Discoveries, p. 14. E. H. B.] 

1 The " spicery, and balm, and myrrh," carried by the Ishmaelites (or 
Arabs) to Egypt were principally for the embalmers, who were doubtless 
supplied regularly with them. (Gen. xxxvii. 25.) Other caravans, like 
the Midianite merchantmen (Gen. xxxvii. 28), visited Egypt for trade; 
and " the spice merchants" are noticed (i Kings x. 15) in Solomon s time. 

4 i.e. subcarbonate of soda, which abounds at the natron lakes in the 
Lybian desert. 

1 Not cotton. The microscope has decided (what no one ever doubted 
in Egypt) that the mummy-cloths are linen. 

1 56 The History of Herodotus BOOK n 

process, the following is the method pursued: Syringes are 
filled with oil made from the cedar-tree, which is then, without 
any incision 1 or disembowelling, injected into the abdomen. 
The passage by which it might be likely to return is stopped, 
and the body laid in natrum the prescribed number of days. 
At the end of the time the cedar-oil is allowed to make its 
escape; and such is its power that it brings with it the whole 
stomach and intestines in a liquid state. The natrum mean 
while has dissolved the flesh, and so nothing is left of the dead 
body but the skin and the bones. It is returned in this condition to 
the relatives, without any further trouble being bestowed upon it. 

88. The third method of embalming, which is practised in 
the case of the poorer classes, is to clear out the intestines with 
a clyster, and let the body lie in natrum the seventy days, after 
which it is at once given to those who come to fetch it away. 

89. The wives of men of rank are not given to be embalmed 
immediately after death, nor indeed are any of the more beauti 
ful and valued women. It is not till they have been dead three 
or four days that they are carried to the embalmers. This is 
done to prevent indignities from being offered them. It is said 
that once a case of this kind occurred: the man was detected 
by the information of his fellow-workman. 

90. Whensoever any one, Egyptian or foreigner, has lost his 
life by falling a prey to a crocodile, or by drowning in the river, 
the law compels the inhabitants of the city near which the body 
is cast up to have it embalmed, and to bury it in one of the 
sacred repositories with all possible magnificence. 2 No one 
may touch the corpse, not even any of the friends or relatives, 
but only the priests of the Nile, who prepare it for burial with 
their own hands regarding it as something more than the 
mere body of a man and themselves lay it in the tomb. 

91. The Egyptians are averse to adopt Greek customs, or, in 
a word, those of any other nation. This feeling is almost 
universal among them. At Chemmis, 3 however, which is a 

1 Second-class mummies without any incision are found in the tombs; 
but the opening in the side was made in many of them, and occasionally 
even in those of an inferior quality ; so that it was not exclusively confined 
to mummies of the first class. There were, in fact, many gradations in 
each class. 

2 The law which obliged the people to embalm the body of any one found 
dead, and to bury it in the most expensive manner, was a police, as well as 
a sanatory, regulation. 

3 Khem, the god of Chemmis, or Khemmo, being supposed to answer 
to Pan, this city was called Panopolis by the Greeks and Romans. 

CHAP. 88-92. Temple of Perseus 157 

large city in the Thebaic canton, near Neapolis, 1 there is a 
square enclosure sacred to Perseus, son of Danae. Palm trees 
grow all round the place, which has a stone gateway of an 
unusual size, surmounted by two colossal statues, 2 also in stone. 
Inside this precinct is a temple, and in the temple an image of 
Perseus. The people of Chemmis say that Perseus often appears 
to them, sometimes within the sacred enclosure, sometimes in 
the open country: one of the sandals which he has worn is fre 
quently found two cubits in length, as they affirm and then 
all Egypt flourishes greatly. In the worship of Perseus Greek 
ceremonies are used; gymnastic games are celebrated in his 
honour, comprising every kind of contest, with prizes of cattle, 
cloaks, and skins. I made inquiries of the Chemmites why it 
was that Perseus appeared to them and not elsewhere in Egypt, 
and how they came to celebrate gymnastic contests unlike the 
rest of the Egyptians: to which they answered, " that Perseus 
belonged to their city by descent. Danaiis and Lynceus were 
Chemmites before they set sail for Greece, and from them Per 
seus was descended," they said, tracing the genealogy; "and 
he, when he came to Egypt for the purpose " (which the Greeks 
also assign) " of bringing away from Libya the Gorgon s head, 
paid them a visit, and acknowledged them for his kinsmen he 
had heard the name of their city from his mother before he 
left Greece he bade them institute a gymnastic contest in his 
honour, and that was the reason why they observed the practice." 
92. The customs hitherto described are those of the Egyptians 
who live above the marsh-country. The inhabitants of the 
marshes have the same customs as the rest, as well in those 
matters which have been mentioned above as in respect of 
marriage, each Egyptian taking to himself, like the Greeks, a 
single wife; 3 but for greater cheapness of living the marsh-men 
practise certain peculiar customs, such as these following. 
They gather the blossoms of a certain water-lily, which grows 
in great abundance all over the flat country at the time when 
the Nile rises and floods the regions along its banks the Egyp- 

1 The " neighbouring Neapolis " is at least ninety miles further up the 
river, and sixty in a direct line. It has been succeeded by the modern 
Keneh, a name taken from the Greek K&IVT) TnSXts, the " Newtown " of 
those days. 

The court planted with trees seems to be the " grove " mentioned in 
the Bible. [Uncertain: see Encyclopedia Biblica, s.v. ASHERAH. E. H. B.] 
here is no instance on the monuments of Egypt of a man having 
more than one wife at a time. 

158 The History of Herodotus BOOK n, 

tians call it the lotus l they gather, I say, the blossoms of this 
plant and dry them in the sun, after which they extract from 
the centre of each blossom a substance like the head of a poppy, 
which they crush and make into bread. The root of the 
lotus is likewise eatable, and has a pleasant sweet taste: it 
is round, and about the size of an apple. There is also another 
species of the lily in Egypt, which grows, like the lotus, in 
the river, and resembles the rose. The fruit springs up side 
by side with the blossom, on a separate stalk, and has 
almost exactly the look of the comb made by wasps. It con 
tains a number of seeds, about the size of an olive-stone, which 
are good to eat: and these are eaten both green and dried. 
The byblus 2 (papyrus), which grows year after year in the 
marshes, they pull up, and, cutting the plant in two, reserve 
the upper portion for other purposes, but take the lower, which 
is about a cubit long, and either eat it or else sell it. Such as 
wish to enjoy the byblus in full perfection bake it first in a closed 
vessel, heated to a glow. Some of these folk, however, live 
entirely on fish, which are gutted as soon as caught, and then 
hung up in the sun: when dry, they are used as food. 

93. Gregarious fish are not found in any numbers in the 
rivers; they frequent the lagunes, whence, at the season of 
breeding, they proceed in shoals towards the sea. The males 
lead the way, and drop their milt as they go, while the females, 
following close behind, eagerly swallow it down. From this 
they conceive, 3 and when, after passing some time in the sea, 
they begin to be in spawn, the whole shoal sets off on its return 
to its ancient haunts. Now, however, it is no longer the males, 
but the females, who take the lead: they swim in front in a 
body, and do exactly as the males did before, dropping, little by 
little, their grains of spawn as they go, while the males in the 
rear devour the grains, each one of which is a fish. 4 A portion 

1 This Nymphaea Lotus grows in ponds and small channels in the Delta 
during the inundation, which are dry during the rest of the year; but it is 
not found in the Nile itself. It is nearly the same as our white water-lily. 
The lotus flower was always presented to guests at an Egyptian party; 
and garlands were put round their heads and necks. 

2 The use of the pith of its triangular stalk for paper made it a very 
valuable plant; and the right of growing the best quality, and of selling 
the papyrus made from it, belonged to the Government. 

8 Aristotle shows the absurdity of this statement. 

* The male fish deposits the milt after the female has deposited the spawn, 
and thus renders it prolific. The swallowing of the spawn is simply the 
act of any hungry fish, male or female, who happens to find it. The bruised 
heads are a fable. 

CHAP. 93-95. TheKiki 1 59 

of the spawn escapes and is not swallowed by the males, and 
hence come the fishes which grow afterwards to maturity. 
When any of this sort of fish are taken on their passage to the 
sea, they are found to have the left side of the head scarred and 
bruised; while if taken on their return, the marks appear on 
the right. The reason is, that as they swim down the Nile 
seaward, they keep close to the bank of the river upon their 
left, and returning again up stream they still cling to the same 
side, hugging It and brushing against it constantly, to be sure 
that they miss not their road through the great force of the 
current. When the Nile begins to rise, the hollows in the land 
and the marshy spots near the river are flooded before any 
other places by the percolation of the water through the river- 
banks ; l and these, almost as soon as they become pools, are 
found to be full of numbers of little fishes. I think that I 
understand how it is this comes to pass. On the subsidence of 
the Nile the year before, though the fish retired with the re 
treating waters, they had first deposited their spawn in the 
mud upon the banks; and so, when at the usual season the 
water returns, small fry are rapidly engendered out of the 
spawn of the preceding year. So much concerning the fish. 

94. The Egyptians who live in the marshes 2 use for the 
anointing of their bodies an oil made from the fruit of the silli- 
cyprium, 3 which is known among them by the name of " kiki." 
To obtain this they plant the sillicyprium (which grows wild in 
Greece) along the banks of the rivers and by the sides of the 
lakes, where it produces fruit in great abundance, but with a 
very disagreeable smell. This fruit is gathered, and then bruised 
and pressed, or else boiled down after roasting : the liquid which 
comes from it is collected and is found to be unctuous, and as 
well suited as olive-oil for lamps, only that it gives out an 
unpleasant odour. 

95. The contrivances which they use against gnats, where 
with the country swarms, are the following. In the parts of 
Egypt above the marshes the inhabitants pass the night upon 

1 The sudden appearance of the young fish in the ponds was simply owing 
to these being supplied by the canals from the river, or by its overflowing 
its banks. 

8 The intimate acquaintance of Herodotus with the inhabitants of the 
marsh-region is probably owing to the important position occupied by 
that region in the revolt of Inaros, which the Athenians, whom Herodotus 
probably accompanied, went to assist. 

* This was the Ricinus communis, the Castor-oil plant. 

1 60 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

lofty towers, 1 which are of great service, as the gnats are unable 
to fly to any height on account of the winds. In the marsh- 
country, where there are no towers, each man possesses a net 
instead. By day it serves him to catch fish, while at night he 
spreads it over the bed in which he is to rest, and creeping in, 
goes to sleep underneath. The gnats, which, if he rolls himself 
up in his dress or in a piece of muslin, are sure to bite through 
the covering, do not so much as attempt to pass the net. 

96. The vessels used in Egypt for the transport of merchan 
dise are made of the Acantha (Thorn), a tree which in its 
growth is very like the Cyrenai c lotus, and from which there 
exudes a gum. They cut a quantity of planks about two cubits 
in length from this tree, and then proceed to their ship-build 
ing, arranging the planks like bricks, and attaching them by ties 
to a number of long stakes or poles till the hull is complete, 
when they lay the cross-planks on the top from side to side. 
They give the boats no ribs, but caulk the seams with papyrus 
on the inside. Each has a single rudder, which is driven straight 
through the keel. The mast is a piece of acantha-wood, and 
the sails are made of papyrus. These boats cannot make way 
against the current unless there is a brisk breeze; they are, 
therefore, towed up-stream from the shore: down-stream they 
are managed as follows. There is a raft belonging to each, 
made of the wood of the tamarisk, fastened together with a 
wattling of reeds; and also a stone bored through the middle 
about two talents in weight. The raft is fastened to the vessel 
by a rope, and allowed to float down the stream in front, while 
the stone is attached by another rope astern. 2 The result is, 
that the raft, hurried forward by the current, goes rapidly down 
the river, and drags the " baris (for so they call this sort of 
boat) after it; while the stone, which is pulled along in the 
wake of the vessel, and lies deep in the water, keeps the boat 
straight. There are a vast number of these vessels in Egypt, 
and some of them are of many thousand talents burthen. 

97. When the Nile overflows, the country is converted into a 
sea, and nothing appears but the cities, which look like the 
islands in the Egean. 3 At this season boats no longer keep the 
course of the river, but sail right across the plain. On the 
voyage from Naucratis to Memphis at this season, you pass 

1 A similar practice is found in the valley of the Indus. The custom of 
sleeping on the flat roofs of their houses is still common in Egypt. 

* A similar practice prevails to this day on the Euphrates. 

* This still happens in those years when the inundation is very high. 

CHAP. 96-99. King Men 161 

close to the pyramids, whereas the usual course is by the apex 
of the Delta, and the city of Cercasorus. You can sail also 
from the maritime town of Canobus across the flat to Naucratis, 
passing by the cities of Anthylla and Archandropolis. 

98. The former of these cities, which is a place of note, is 
assigned expressly to the wife of the ruler of Egypt for the time 
being, to keep her in shoes. Such has been the custom ever 
since Egypt fell under the Persian yoke. The other city seems 
to me to have got its name of Archandropolis from Archander 
the Phthian, son of Achaeus, and son-in-law of Danaus. There 
might certainly have been another Archander; but, at any rate, 
the name is not Egyptian. 

99. Thus far I have spoken of Egypt from my own observa 
tion, relating what I myself saw, the ideas that I formed, and 
the results of my own researches. What follows rests on the 
accounts given me by the Egyptians, which I shall now repeat, 
adding thereto some particulars which fell under my own notice. 

The priests said that Men was the first king of Egypt, 1 and 
that it was he who raised the dyke which protects Memphis 
from the inundations of the Nile. Before his time the river 
flowed entirely along the sandy range of hills which skirts Egypt 
on the side of Libya. He, however, by banking up the river 
at the bend which it forms about a hundred furlongs south of 
Memphis, laid the ancient channel dry, while he dug a new 
course for the stream half-way between the two lines of hills. 
To this day, the elbow which the Nile forms at the point where 
it is forced aside into the new channel is guarded with the 
greatest care by the Persians, and strengthened every year; for 
if the river were to burst out at this place, and pour over the 
mound, there would be danger of Memphis being completely 
overwhelmed by the flood. Men, the first king, having thus, 
by turning the river, made the tract where it used to run, dry 
land, proceeded in the first place to build the city now called 
Memphis, which lies in the narrow part of Egypt; after which 
he further excavated a lake outside the town, to the north and 
west, communicating with the river, which was itself the eastern 

1 Manetho, Eratosthenes, and other writers, agree with Herodotus that 
Men or Menes (the Mna, or M^nai, of the monuments) was the first Egyptian 
king. [As I have already noted, Menes is not an historical figure. Pos 
sibly Aha and Narmer first conquerors of the North and unifiers of the 
kingdom were the originals of the legendary king. Since Rawlinson 
wrote, the spade of the archaeologist has unearthed a vast mass of material 
bearing on Egyptian history; and a new chapter in the history of the 
world has been recovered. E. H. B.] 

1 62 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

boundary. Besides these works, 1 he also, the priests said, built 
the temple of Vulcan which stands within the city, a vast 
edifice, very worthy of mention. 

100. Next, they read me from a papyrus, the names of three 
hundred and thirty monarchs, 2 who (they said) were his suc 
cessors upon the throne. In this number of generations there 
were eighteen Ethiopian kings, 3 and one queen who was a 
native; all the rest were kings and Egyptians. The queen bore 
the same name as the Babylonian princess, namely, Nitocris. 4 
They said that she succeeded her brother; he had been king of 
Egypt, and was put to death by his subjects, who then placed 
her upon the throne. Bent on avenging his death, she devised 
a cunning scheme by which she destroyed a vast number of 
Egyptians. She constructed a spacious underground chamber, 
and, on pretence of inaugurating it, contrived the following: 
Inviting to a banquet those of the Egyptians whom she knew 
to have had the chief share in the murder of her brother, she 
suddenly, as they were feasting, let the river in upon them, by 
means of a secret duct of large size. This, and this only, did 
they tell me of her, except that, when she had done as I have 
said, she threw herself into an apartment full of ashes, that she 
might escape the vengeance whereto she would otherwise have 
been exposed. 

101. The other kings, they said, were personages of no note 
or distinction, 5 and left no monuments of any account, with the 
exception of the last, who was named Mceris. 6 He left several 
memorials of his reign the northern gateway of the temple of 
Vulcan, the lake excavated by his orders, whose dimensions I 
shall give presently, 7 and the pyramids built by him in the lake, 
the size of which will be stated when I describe the lake itself 
wherein they stand. Such were his works : the other kings left 
absolutely nothing. 

102. Passing over these monarchs, therefore, I shall speak of 

1 Neither Menes nor his immediate successors have left any monuments. 
* That is, from Menes to Moeris. 

3 The intermarriages of the Egyptian and Ethiopian royal families may 
be inferred from the sculptures. 

4 The fact of Nitocris having been an early Egyptian queen is proved 
in her name, Neitakri, occurring in the Turin Papyrus. 

5 Their obscurity was owing to Egypt being part of the time under the 
dominion of the Shepherds, who, finding Egypt divided into several 
kingdoms, or principalities, invaded the country, and succeeded at length 
in dispossessing the Memphitc kings of their territories. 

4 See chs. 13 and 100. 
7 Infra, ch. 149. 

CHAP. 100-104. ScSOStHS 163 

the king who reigned next, whose name was Sesostris. 1 He, 
the priests said, first of all proceeded in a fleet of ships of war 
from the Arabian gulf along the shores of the Erythraean sea, 
subduing the nations as he went, until he finally reached a sea 
which could not be navigated by reason of the shoals. Hence 
he returned to Egypt, where, they told me, he collected a vast 
armament, and made a progress by land across the continent, 
conquering every people which fell in his way. In the countries 
where the natives withstood his attack, and fought gallantly 
for their liberties, he erected pillars, 2 on which he inscribed his 
own name and country, and how that he had here reduced the 
inhabitants to subjection by the might of his arms: where, on 
the contrary, they submitted readily and without a struggle, he 
inscribed on the pillars, in addition to these particulars, an 
emblem to mark that they were a nation of women, that is, 
unwarlike and effeminate. 

103. In this way he traversed the whole continent of Asia, 
whence he passed on into Europe, and made himself master of 
Scythia and of Thrace, beyond which countries I do not think 
that his army extended its march. For thus far the pillars 
which he erected are still visible, but in the remoter regions 
they are no longer found. Returning to Egypt from Thrace, 
he came, on his way, to the banks of the river Phasis. Here I 
cannot say with any certainty what took place. Either he of 
his own accord detached a body of troops from his main army 
and left them to colonise the country, or else a certain number 
of his soldiers, wearied with their long wanderings, deserted, 
and established themselves on the banks of this stream. 

104. There can be no doubt that the Colchians are an Egyp 
tian race. Before I heard any mention of the fact from others, 
I had remarked it myself. Aiter the thought had struck me, I 
made inquiries on the subject both in Colchis and in Egypt, and 
I found that the Colchians had a more distinct recollection of 
the Egyptians, than the Egyptians had of them. Still the 
Egyptians said that they believed the Colchians to be descended 
from the army of Sesostris. My own conjectures were founded, 

1 The original Sesostris was the first king of the 12th dynasty, Osirtasen 
I., who was the first great Egyptian conqueror; but when Osirei or Sethi 
(Sethos), and his son Rameses II. surpassed the exploits of their predecessor, 
the name of Sesostris became confounded with Sethos, and the conquests 
of that king, and his still greater son, were ascribed to the original Sesostris. 

* These memorials, which belong to Rameses II., are found in Syria, on 
the rocks above the mouth of the Lycus (now Nahr el Kelb). 

1 64 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

first, on the fact that they are black-skinned and have woolly 
hair, 1 which certainly amounts to but little, since several other 
nations are so too; but further and more especially, on the 
circumstance that the Colchians, the Egyptians, and the 
Ethiopians, are the only nations who have practised circum 
cision from the earliest times. The Phoenicians and the Syrians 
of Palestine 2 themselves confess that they learnt the custom of 
the Egyptians; and the Syrians who dwell about the rivers 
Thermodon and Parthenius, 3 as well as their neighbours the 
Macronians, say that they have recently adopted it from the 
Colchians. Now these are the only nations who use circum 
cision, and it is plain that they all imitate herein the Egyptians. 4 
With respect to the Ethiopians, indeed, I cannot decide whether 
they learnt the practice of the Egyptians, or the Egyptians of 
them it is undoubtedly of very ancient date in Ethiopia but 
that the others derived their knowledge of it from Egypt is 
clear to me, from the fact that the Phoenicians, when they 
come to have commerce with the Greeks, cease to follow the 
Egyptians in this custom, and allow their children to remain 

105. I will add a further proof to the identity of the Egyp 
tians and the Colchians. These two nations weave their linen 
in exactly the same way, and this is a way entirely unknown to 
the rest of the world ; they also in their whole mode of life and 
in their language resemble one another. The Colchian linen 6 
is called by the Greeks Sardinian, while that which comes from 
Egypt is known as Egyptian. 

1 06. The pillars which Sesostris erected in the conquered 
countries have for the most part disappeared; but in the part 
of Syria called Palestine, I myself saw them still standing, with 
the writing above-mentioned, and the emblem distinctly visible. 

1 Herodotus also alludes in ch. 57 to the black colour of the Egyptians; 
but not only do the paintings pointedly distinguish the Egyptians from the 
blacks of Africa, and even from the copper- coloured Ethiopians, both of 
whom are shown to have been of the same hue as their descendants: but 
the mummies prove that the Egyptians were neither black nor woolly-haired, 
and the formation of the head at once decides that they are of Asiatic, and 
not of African, origin. Egypt was called Chemi, " black," from the colour 
of the rich soil, not from that of the people. 

a Herodotus apparently alludes to the Jews. 

8 The Syrians here intended are undoubtedly the Cappadocians. 

4 Circumcision was not practised by the Philistines (i Sam. xiv. 6; xvii. 
26; xviii. 27; 2 Sam. i. 20; i Chron. x. 4), nor by the generality of the 

1 Colchis was famous for its linen. 

CHAP. 105-108. Figures of Sesostris 165 

In Ionia also, there are two representations of this prince en 
graved upon rocks/ one on the road from Ephesus to Phocaea, 
the other between Sardis and Smyrna. In each case the figure 
is that of a man, four cubits and a span high, with a spear in 
his right hand and a bow in his left, the rest of his costume 
being likewise half Egyptian, half Ethiopian. There is an 
inscription across the breast from shoulder to shoulder, in the 
sacred character of Egypt, which says, " With my own shoulders 
I conquered this land." The conqueror does not tell who he is, 
or whence he comes, though elsewhere Sesostris records these 
facts. Hence it has been imagined by some of those who have 
seen these forms, that they are figures of Memnon; 2 but such 
as think so err very widely from the truth. 

107. This Sesostris, the priests went on to say, upon his return 
home, accompanied by vast multitudes of the people whose 
countries he had subdued, 3 was received by his brother, 4 whom 
he had made viceroy of Egypt on his departure, at Daphnae near 
Pelusium, and invited by him to a banquet, which he attended, 
together with his sons. Then his brother piled a quantity of 
wood all round the building, and having so done set it alight. 
Sesostris, discovering what had happened, took counsel instantly 
with his wife, who had accompanied him to the feast, and was 
advised by her to lay two of their six sons upon the fire, and 
so make a bridge across the flames, whereby the rest might 
effect their escape. Sesostris did as she recommended, and thus 
while two of his sons were burnt to death, he himself and his 
other children were saved. 

108. The king then returned to his own land and took ven- 

1 A figure, which seems certainly to be one of the two here mentioned by 
Herodotus, has been discovered at Ninfi, on what appears to have been the 
ancient road from Sardis to Smyrna. 

* Herodotus shows his discrimination in rejecting the notion of his being 
Memnon, which had already become prevalent among the Greeks, who saw 
Memnon everywhere hi Egypt merely because he was mentioned in Homer. 
A similar error is made at the present day in expecting to find a reference 
to Jewish history on the monuments, though it is obviously not the custom 
of any people to record their misfortunes to posterity in painting or sculp 

8 It was the custom of the Egyptian kings to bring their prisoners to 
Egypt, and to employ them in public works, as the sculptures abundantly 
prove, and as Herodotus states (ch. 108). The Jews were employed in the 
same way: for though at first they obtained grazing-lands for their cattle 
in the land of Goshen (Gen. xlvi. 34), or the Bucolia, where they tended the 
king s herds (Gen. xlvii. 6, 27), they were afterwards forced to perform 
various services, like ordinary prisoners of war. 

4 This at once shows that the conqueror here mentioned is not the early 
Sesostris of the iatb dynasty, but the great king of the i9th dynasty. 

1 66 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

geance upon his brother, after which he proceeded to make use 
of the multitudes whom he had brought with him from the 
conquered countries, partly to drag the huge masses of stone 
which were moved in the course of his reign to the temple of 
Vulcan partly to dig the numerous canals with which the 
whole of Egypt is intersected. By these forced labours the 
entire face of the country was changed; for whereas Egypt had 
formerly been a region suited both for horses and carriages, 
henceforth it became entirely unfit for either. 1 Though a flat 
country throughout its whole extent, it is now unfit for either 
horse or carriage, being cut up by the canals, which are ex 
tremely numerous and run in all directions. The king s object 
was to supply Nile water to the inhabitants of the towns situated 
in the mid-country, and not lying upon the river; for previously 
they had been obliged, after the subsidence of the floods, to 
drink a brackish water which they obtained from wells. 2 

109. Sesostris also, they declared, made a division of the soil 
of Egypt among the inhabitants, assigning square plots of 
ground of equal size to all, and obtaining his chief revenue from 
the rent which the holders were required to pay him year by 
year. If the river carried away any portion of a man s lot, he 
appeared before the king, and related what had happened ; upon 
which the king sent persons to examine, and determine by 
measurement the exact extent of the loss ; and thenceforth only 
such a rent was demanded of him as was proportionate to the 
reduced size of his land. From this practice, I think, geometry 
first came to be known in Egypt, whence it passed into Greece. 
The sun-dial, however, and the gnomon 3 with the division of 
the day into twelve parts, were received by the Greeks from 
the Babylonians. 

no. Sesostris was king not only of Egypt, but also of 
Ethiopia. He was the only Egyptian monarch who ever ruled 

1 It is very possible that the number of canals may have increased in 
the time of Rameses II.: and this, like the rest of Herodotus account, 
shows that this king is the Sesostris whose actions he is describing. 

a The water nitrates through the alluvial soil to the inland wells, where 
it is sweet, though sometimes hard. 

8 The gnomon was of course part of every dial. Herodotus, however, is 
correct in making a difference between the yvu/jLwv and the TTO\OS. The 
former, called also <TTOI.X^ OV , was a perpendicular rod, whose shadow 
indicated noon, and also by its length a particular part of the day, being 
longest at sunrise and sunset. The TTO XOS was an improvement, and a 
real dial, on which the division of the day was set off by lines, and indicated 
by the shadow of its gnomon. 

CHAP. 109-111. 

Pheron 167 

over the latter country. 1 He left, as memorials of his reign, 
the stone statues which stand in front of the temple of Vulcan, 
two of which, representing himself and his wife, are thirty cubits 
in height, while the remaining four, which represent his sons, 
are twenty cubits. These are the statues, in front of which the 
priest of Vulcan, very many years afterwards, would not allow 
Darius the Persian * to place a statue of himself; because," 
he said, " Darius had not equalled the achievements of Sesostris 
the Egyptian: for while Sesostris had subdued to the full as 
many nations as ever Darius had brought under, he had like 
wise conquered the Scythians, whom Darius had failed to 
master. It was not fair, therefore, that he should erect his 
statue in front of the offerings of a king, whose deeds he had 
been unable to surpass." Darius, they say, pardoned the 
freedom of this speech. 

in. On the death of Sesostris, his son Pheron, the priests 
said, mounted the throne. He undertook no warlike expedi 
tions; being struck with blindness, owing to the following cir 
cumstance. The river had swollen to the unusual height of 
eighteen cubits, and had overflowed all the fields, when, a 
sudden wind arising, the water rose in great waves. Then the 
king, in a spirit of impious violence, seized his spear, and hurled 
it into the strong eddies of the stream. Instantly he was 
smitten with disease of the eyes, from which after a little while 
he became blind, 3 continuing without the power of vision for 
ten years. At last, in the eleventh year, an oracular announce 
ment reached him from the city of Buto, to the effect, that 
" the time of his punishment had run out, and he should re 
cover his sight by washing his eyes with urine. He must find a 

1 This cannot apply to any one Egyptian king in particular, as many 
ruled in Ethiopia; and though Osirtasen I. (the original Sesostris) may have 
been the first, the monuments show that his successors of the i2th dynasty, 
and others, ruled and erected buildings in Ethiopia. The Egyptians 
evidently overran all Ethiopia, and part of the interior of Africa, in the 
time of the i8th and igth dynasties, and had long before conquered Negro 

8 The name of Darius occurs in the sculptures. He seems to have 
treated the Egyptians with far more uniform lenity than the other Persian 

3 This is one of the Greek ciceroni tales. A Greek poet might make a 
graceful story of Achilles and a Trojan stream, but the prosaic Egyptians 
would never represent one of their kings performing a feat so opposed to 
his habits, and to all their religious notions. The story about the women 
is equally un-Egyptian; but the mention of a remedy which is still used in 
Egypt for ophthalmia, shows that some simple fact has been converted 
into a wholly improbable tale. 

i68 The History of Herodotus BOOK 11. 

woman who had been faithful to her husband, and had never 
preferred to him another man." The king, therefore, first of 
all made trial of his wife, but to no purpose he continued as 
blind as before. So he made the experiment with other women, 
until at length he succeeded, and in this way recovered his 
sight. Hereupon he assembled all the women, except the last, 
and bringing them to the city which now bears the name of 
Erythrabolus (Red-soil), he there burnt them all, together with 
the place itself. The woman to whom he owed his cure, he 
married, and after his recovery was complete, he presented 
offerings to all the temples of any note, among which the best 
worthy of mention are the two stone obelisks which he gave to 
the temple of the Sun. 1 These are magnificent works; each is 
made of a single stone, eight cubits broad, and a hundred 
cubits in height. 

112. Pheron, they said, was succeeded by a man of Memphis, 
whose name, in the language of the Greeks, was Proteus. There 
is a sacred precinct of this king in Memphis, which is very 
beautiful, and richly adorned, situated south of the great temple 
of Vulcan. Phoenicians from the city of Tyre dwell all round 
this precinct, and the whole place is known by the name of 
" the camp of the Tyrians." Within the enclosure stands a 
temple, which is called that of Venus the Stranger. 2 I conjec 
ture the building to have been erected to Helen, the daughter 
of Tyndarus; first, because she, as I have heard say, passed 
some time at the court of Proteus; and secondly, because the 
temple is dedicated to Venus the Stranger ; for among all the 
many temples of Venus there is no other where the goddess 
bears this title. 

113. The priests, in answer to my inquiries on the subject 
of Helen, 3 informed me of the following particulars. When 

1 They were therefore most probably at Heliopolis. The height of 100 
cubits, at least 150 feet, far exceeds that of any found in Egypt, the highest 
being less than 100 feet. The mode of raising an obelisk seems to have 
been by tilting it from an inclined plane into a pit, at the bottom of which 
the pedestal was placed to receive it, a wheel or roller of wood being 
fastened on each side to the end of the obelisk, which enabled it to run 
down the wall opposite the inclined plane to its proper position. During 
this operation it was dragged by ropes up the inclined plane, and then 
gradually lowered into the pit as soon as it had been tilted. 

2 This was evidently Astarte, the Venus of the Phoenicians and Syrians. 

3 The eagerness of the Greeks to " inquire " after events mentioned by 
Homer, and the readiness of the Egyptians to take advantage of it, are 
shown in this story related to Herodotus. The fact of Homer having 
believed that Helen went to Egypt, only proves that the story was not 
invented in Herodotus time, but was current long before. 

CHAP. 112-115. Rape of Helen 169 

Alexander had carried off Helen from Sparta, he took ship and 
sailed homewards. On his way across the Egean a gale arose, 
which drove him from his course and took him down to the sea 
of Egypt; hence, as the wind did not abate, he was carried on 
to the coast, when he went ashore, landing at the Salt-Pans, in 
that mouth of the Nile which is now called the Canobic. 1 At 
this place there stood upon the shore a temple, which still 
exists, dedicated to Hercules. If a slave runs away from his 
master, and taking sanctuary at this shrine gives himself up to 
the god, and receives certain sacred marks upon his person, 2 
whosoever <his master may be, he cannot lay hand on him* 
This law still remained unchanged to my time. Hearing, there 
fore, of the custom of the place, the attendants of Alexander 
deserted him, and fled to the temple, where they sat as sup 
pliants. While there, wishing to damage their master, they 
accused him to the Egyptians, narrating all the circumstances 
of the rape of Helen and the wrong done to Menelaus. These 
charges they brought, not only before the priests, but also 
before the warden of that mouth of the river, whose name was 

114. As soon as he received the intelligence, Thonis sent a 
message to Proteus, who was at Memphis, to this effect: " A 
stranger is arrived from Greece; he is by race a Teucrian, and 
has done a wicked deed in the country from which he is come. 
Having beguiled the wife of the man whose guest he was, he 
carried her away with him, and much treasure also. Compelled 
by stress of weather, he has now put in here. Are we to let 
him depart as he came, or shall we seize what he has brought? 
Proteus replied, Seize the man, be he who he may, that has 
dealt thus wickedly with his friend, and bring him before me, 
that I may hear what he will say for himself." 

115. Thonis, on receiving these orders, arrested Alexander, 
and stopped the departure of his ships; then, taking with him 
Alexander, Helen, the treasures, and also the fugitive slaves, he 
went up to Memphis. When all were arrived, Proteus asked 
Alexander, who he was, and whence he had come ? Alex 
ander replied by giving his descent, the name of his country, 
and a true account of his late voyage. Then Proteus ques- 

1 This branch of the Nile entered the sea a little to the E. of the town 
of Canopus, close to Heracleum. 

2 Showing they were dedicated to the service of the Deity. To set a 
mark on any one as a protection was a very ancient custom. Cp. Gen. 
iv. 15, 

170 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

tioned him as to how he got possession of Helen. In his reply 
Alexander became confused, and diverged from the truth, 
whereon the slaves interposed, confuted his statements, and 
told the whole history of the crime. Finally, Proteus delivered 
judgment as follows: " Did I not regard it as a matter of the 
utmost consequence that no stranger driven to my country by 
adverse winds should ever be put to death, I would certainly 
have avenged the Greek by slaying thee. Thou basest of men, 
after accepting hospitality, to do so wicked a deed! First, 
thou didst seduce the wife of thy own host then, not content 
therewith, thou must violently excite her mind, and steal her 
away from her husband. Nay, even so thou wert not satisfied, 
but on leaving, thou must plunder the house in which thou 
hadst been a guest. Now then, as I think it of the greatest 
importance to put no stranger to death, I suffer thee to depart; 
but the woman and the treasures I shall not permit to be carried 
away. Here they must stay, till the Greek stranger comes in 
person and takes them back with him. For thyself and thy 
companions, I command thee to begone from my land within 
the space of three days and I warn you, that otherwise at the 
end of that time you will be treated as enemies/ 

116. Such was the tale told me by the priests concerning the 
arrival of Helen at the court of Proteus. It seems to me that 
Homer was acquainted with this story, and while discarding it, 
because he thought it less adapted for epic poetry than the ver 
sion which he followed, showed that it was not unknown to him* 
This is evident from the travels which he assigns to Alexander 
in the Iliad and let it be borne in mind that he has nowhere 
else contradicted himself making him be carried out of his 
course on his return with Helen, and after divers wanderings 
come at last to Sidon x in Phoenicia. The passage is in the 
Bravery of Diomed, 2 and the words are as follows: 

" There were the robes, many-coloured, the work of Sidonian women : 
They from Sidon had come, what time god-shaped Alexander 
Over the broad sea brought, that way, the high-born Helen." 

1 Herodotus very properly ranks the Sidonians before the Tynans 
(viii. 67), and Isaiah calls Tyre daughter of Sidon (xxiii. 12), having been 
founded by the Sidonians, Sidon is in Genesis (x. 19), but no Tyre; and 
Homer only mentions Sidon and not " Tyre," as Strabo observes. It may 
be " doubtful which was the metropolis of Phoenicia," in later times; 
Sidon, however, appears to be the older city. 

s II. vi. 290-2. 

CHAP. 116-118. StOFy of Heidi 1JI 

In the Odyssey also the same fact is alluded to, in these 
words: 1 

" Such, so wisely prepared, were the drugs that her stores afforded, 
Excellent; gift which once Polydamna, partner of Thdnis, 
Gave her in Egypt, where many the simples that grow in the meadows, 
Potent to cure in part, in part as potent to injure." 

Menelaus too, in the same poem, thus addresses Telema- 

Much did I long to return, but the Gods still kept me in Egypt- 
Angry because I had failed to pay them their hecatombs duly." 

In these places Homer shows himself acquainted with the 
voyage of Alexander to Egypt, for Syria borders on Egypt, and 
the Phoenicians, to whom Sidon belongs, dwell in Syria. 

117. From these various passages, and from that about Sidon 
especially, it is clear that Homer did not write the Cypria. 8 
For there it is said that Alexander arrived at Ilium with Helen 
on the third day after he left Sparta, the wind having been 
favourable, and the sea smooth; whereas in the Iliad, the poet 
makes him wander before he brings her home. Enough, how 
ever, for the present of Homer and the Cypria. 

1 1 8. I made inquiry of the priests, whether the story which 
the Greeks tell about Ilium is a fable, or no. In reply they 
related the following particulars, of which they declared that 
Menelaus had himself informed them. After the rape of Helen, 
a vast army of Greeks, wishing to render help to Menelaus, set 
sail for the Teucrian territory; on their arrival they disem 
barked, and formed their camp, after which they sent ambas 
sadors to Ilium, of whom Menelaus was one. The embassy was 
received within the walls, and demanded the restoration of 
Helen with the treasures which Alexander had carried off, and 
likewise required satisfaction for the wrong done. The Teu- 
crians gave at once the answer in which they persisted ever 
afterwards, backing their assertions sometimes even with oaths, 
to wit, that neither Helen, nor the treasures claimed, were in 
their possession, both the one and the other had remained, 
they said, in Egypt; and it was not just to come upon them 
for what Proteus, king of Egypt, was detaining. The Greeks, 
imagining that the Teucrians were merely laughing at them, 
laid siege to the town, and never rested until they finally took 

1 Odyss. iy. 227-230. * Ibid. iv. 351-2. 

* The criticism here is better than the argument. There can be no doubt 
that Homer was not the author of the rambling epic called " The Cypria." 

ly 2 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

it. As, however, no Helen was found, and they were still told 
the same story, they at length believed in its truth, and 
despatched Menelaus to the court of Proteus. 

119. So Menelaus travelled to Egypt, and on his arrival 
sailed up the river as far as Memphis, and related all that had 
happened. He met with the utmost hospitality, received Helen 
back unharmed, and recovered all his treasures. After this 
friendly treatment Menelaus, they said, behaved most unjustly 
towards the Egyptians; for as it happened that at the time 
when he wanted to take his departure, he was detained by the 
wind being contrary, and as he found this obstruction continue, 
he had recourse to a most wicked expedient. He seized, they 
said, two children of the people of the country, and offered them 
up in sacrifice. 1 When this became known, the indignation of 
the people was stirred, and they went in pursuit of Menelaus, 
who, however, escaped with his ships to Libya, after which the 
Egyptians could not say whither he went. The rest they knew 
full well, partly by the inquiries which they had made, and 
partly from the circumstances having taken place in their own 
land, and therefore not admitting of doubt. 

120. Such is the account given by the Egyptian priests, and 
I am myself inclined to regard as true all that they say of 
Helen from the following considerations : If Helen had been at 
Troy, the inhabitants would, I think, have given her up to the 
Greeks, whether Alexander consented to it or no. For surely 
neither Priam, nor his family, could have been so infatuated as 
to endanger their own persons, their children, and their city, 
merely that Alexander might possess Helen. At any rate, if 
they determined to refuse at first, yet afterwards when so many 
of the Trojans fell on every encounter with the Greeks, and 
Priam too in each battle lost a son, or sometimes two, or three, 
or even more, if we may credit the epic poets, I do not believe 
that even if Priam himself had been married to her he would 
have declined to deliver her up, with the view of bringing the 
series of calamities to a close. Nor was it as if Alexander had 
been heir to the crown, in which case he might have had the 

1 This story recalls the " Sanguine placastis ventos, et virgine caesa," 
Virg. ^n. ii. 116; and Herodotus actually records human sacrifices in 
Achaia, or Phthiotis (vii. 197). Some have attributed human sacrifices 
to the Egyptians; and Virgil says " Quis illaudati nescit Busiridis aras? 
(Georg. iii. 5); but it must be quite evident that such a custom was 
inconsistent with the habits of the civilised Egyptians, and Herodotus has 
disproved the probability of human sacrifices in Egypt by his judicious 
remarks in ch. 45. 

CHAP, no-lax. Rhampsinitus 173 

chief management of affairs, since Priam was already old. 
Hector, who was his elder brother, and a far braver man, stood 
before him, and was the heir to the kingdom on the death of 
their father Priam. And it could not be Hector s interest to 
uphold his brother in his wrong, when it brought such dire 
calamities upon himself and the other Trojans. But the fact 
was that they had no Helen to deliver, and so they told the 
Greeks, but the Greeks would not believe what they said 
Divine Providence, as I think, so willing, that by their utter 
destruction it might be made evident to all men that when 
great wrongs are done, the gods will surely visit them with 
great punishments. Such, at least, is my view of the matter. 

121. (i.) When Proteus died, Rhampsinitus, 1 the priests in 
formed me, succeeded to the throne. His monuments were, 
the western gateway of the temple of Vulcan, and the two 
statues which stand in front of this gateway, called by the 
Egyptians, the one Summer, the other Winter, each twenty- 
five cubits in height. The statue of Summer, which is the 
northernmost of the two, is worshipped by the natives, and has 
offerings made to it; that of Winter, which stands towards the 
south, is treated in exactly the contrary way. King Rham 
psinitus was possessed, they said, of great riches in silver, indeed 
to such an amount, that none of the princes, his successors, 
surpassed or even equalled his wealth. For the better custody 
of this money, he proposed to build a vast chamber of hewn 
stone, one side of which was to form a part of the outer wall of 
his palace. The builder, therefore, having designs upon the 
treasures, contrived, as he was making the building, to insert in 
this wall a stone, which could easily be removed from its place 
by two men, or even by one. So the chamber was finished, 
and the king s money stored away in it. Time passed, and the 
builder fell sick, when finding his end approaching, he called for 
his two sons, and related to them the contrivance he had made 
in the king s treasure-chamber, telling them it was for their 
sakes he had done it, that so they might always live in affluence. 
Then he gave them clear directions concerning the mode of re 
moving the stone, and communicated the measurements, bidding 
them carefully keep the secret, whereby they would be Comp 
trollers of the Royal Exchequer so long as they lived. Then 
the father died, and the sons were not slow in setting to work: 

1 This is evidently the name of a Rameses, and not of a king of an early 

1 74 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

they went by night to the palace, found the stone in the wall 
of the building, and having removed it with ease, plundered 
the treasury of a round sum. 

(2.) When the king next paid a visit to the apartment, he 
was astonished to see that the money was sunk in some of the 
vessels wherein it was stored away. Whom to accuse, how 
ever, he knew not, as the seals were all perfect, and the fasten 
ings of the room secure. Still each time that he repeated his 
visits, he found that more money was gone. The thieves in 
truth never stopped, but plundered the treasury ever more and 
more. At last the king determined to have some traps made, 
and set near the vessels which contained his wealth. This was 
done, and when the thieves came, as usual, to the treasure- 
chamber, and one of them entering through the aperture, made 
straight for the jars, suddenly he found himself caught in one of 
the traps. Perceiving that he was lost, he instantly called his 
brother, and telling him what had happened, entreated him to 
enter as quickly as possible and cut off his head, that when his 
body should be discovered it might not be recognised, which 
would have the effect of bringing ruin upon both. The other 
thief thought the advice good, and was persuaded to follow it; 
-then, fitting the stone into its place, he went home, taking 
with him his brother s head. 

(3.) When day dawned, the king came into the room, and 
marvelled greatly to see the body of the thief in the trap with 
out a head, while the building was still whole, and neither 
entrance nor exit was to be seen anywhere. In this perplexity 
he commanded the body of the dead man to be hung up out 
side the palace wall, and set a guard to watch it, with orders 
that if any persons were seen weeping or lamenting near the 
place, they should be seized and brought before him. When 
the mother heard of this exposure of the corpse of her son, she 
took it sorely to heart, and spoke to her surviving child, bidding 
him devise some plan or other to get back the body, and 
threatening, that if he did not exert himself, she would go 
herself to the king, and denounce him as the robber. 

(4.) The son said all he could to persuade her to let the 
matter rest, but in vain; she still continued to trouble him, 
until at last he yielded to her importunity, and contrived as 
follows: Filling some skins with wine, he loaded them on 
donkeys, which he drove before him till he came to the place 
where the guards were watching the dead body, when pulling 

CHAP. 121. The Brother s Stratagem 175 

two or three of the skins towards him, he untied some of the 
necks which dangled by the asses sides. The wine poured 
freely out, whereupon he began to beat his head, and shout 
with all his might, seeming not to know which of the donkeys 
he should turn to first. When the guards saw the wine running, 
delighted to profit by the occasion, they rushed one and all into 
the road, each with some vessel or other, and caught the liquor 
as it was spilling. The driver pretended anger, and loaded 
them with abuse; whereon they did their best to pacify him, 
until at last he appeared to soften, and recover his good humour, 
drove his asses aside out of the road, and set to work to re 
arrange their burthens; meanwhile, as he talked and chatted 
with the guards, one of them began to rally him, and make him 
laugh, whereupon he gave them one of the skins as a gift. 
They now made up their minds to sit down and have a drinking- 
bout where they were, so they begged him to remain and drink 
with them. Then the man let himself be persuaded, and 
stayed. As the drinking went on, they grew very friendly to 
gether, so presently he gave them another skin, upon which 
they drank so copiously that they were all overcome with the 
liquor, and growing drowsy lay down, and fell asleep on the 
spot. The thief waited till it was the dead of the night, and 
then took down the body of his brother; after which, in mockery, 
he shaved off the right side of all the soldiers beards, 1 and so 
left them. Laying his brother s body upon the asses, he carried 
it home to his mother, having thus accomplished the thing that 
she had required of him. 

(5.) When it came to the king s ears that the thief s body 
was stolen away, he was sorely vexed. Wishing, therefore, 
whatever it might cost, to catch the man who had contrived 
the trick, he had recourse (the priests said) to an expedient, 
which I can scarcely credit. He sent his own daughter 2 to the 

1 This is a curious mistake for any one to make who had been in Egypt, 
since the soldiers had no beards, and it was the custom of all classes to 
shave. This we know from ancient authors, and, above all, from the 
sculptures, where the only persons who have beards are foreigners. Hero 
dotus even allows that the Egyptians shaved their heads and beards 
(ch. 36; cp. Gen. xli. 4). Joseph, when sent for from prison by Pharaoh, 
shaved himself and changed his raiment." Herodotus could not have 
learnt this story from the Egyptians, and it is evidently from a Greek 

1 This in a country where social ties were so much regarded, and where 
the distinction of royal and noble classes was more rigidly maintained than 
in the most exclusive community of modern Europe, shows that the story 
was of foreign origin. 

I 405 G 

176 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

common stews, with orders to admit all comers, but to require 
every man to tell her what was the cleverest and wickedest 
thing he had done in the whole course of his life. If any one 
in reply told her the story of the thief, she was to lay hold of 
him and not allow him to get away. The daughter did as her 
father willed, whereon the thief, who was well aware of the 
king s motive, felt a desire to outdo him in craft and cunning. 
Accordingly he contrived the following plan: He procured the 
corpse of a man lately dead, and cutting off one of the arms at 
the shoulder, put it under his dress, and so went to the king s 
daughter. When she put the question to him as she had done 
to all the rest, he replied, that the wickedest thing he had ever 
done was cutting off the head of his brother when he was 
caught in a trap in the king s treasury, and the cleverest was 
making the guards drunk and carrying off the body. As he 
spoke, the princess caught at him, but the thief took advantage 
of the darkness to hold out to her the hand of the corpse. 
Imagining it to be his own hand, she seized and held it fast; 
while the thief, leaving it in her grasp, made his escape by the door. 

(6.) The king, when word was brought him of this fresh suc 
cess, amazed at the sagacity and boldness of the man, sent 
messengers to all the towns in his dominions to proclaim a free 
pardon for the thief, and to promise him a rich reward, if he 
came and made himself known. The thief took the king at his 
word, and came boldly into his presence; whereupon Rham- 
psinitus, greatly admiring him, and looking on him as the most 
knowing of men, gave him his daughter in marriage. " The 
Egyptians," he said, " excelled all the rest of the world in 
wisdom, and this man excelled all other Egyptians." 

122. The same king, I was also informed by the priests, after 
wards descended alive into the region which the Greeks call 
Hades, 1 and there played at dice with Ceres, sometimes winning 
and sometimes suffering defeat. After a while he returned 
to earth, and brought with him a golden napkin, a gift which 
he had received from the goddess. From this descent of Rham- 
psinitus into Hades, and return to earth again, the Egyptians, I 
was .told, instituted a festival, which they certainly celebrated 
in my day. On what occasion it was that they instituted it, 
whether upon this or upon any other, I cannot determine. The 
following are the ceremonies : On a certain day in the year the 

i Hades was called in Egyptian Ament or Amenti, over which Osiris 
presided as judge of the dead. 

CHAP. 122-124. Cheops 177 

priests weave a mantle, and binding the eyes of one of their 
number with a fillet, they put the mantle upon him, and take 
him with them into the roadway conducting to the temple of 
Ceres, when they depart and leave him to himself. Then the 
priest, thus blindfolded, is led (they say) by two wolves to the 
temple of Ceres, distant twenty furlongs from the city, where he 
stays awhile, after which he is brought back from the temple by 
the wolves, and left upon the spot where they first joined him. 

123. Such as think the tales told by the Egyptians credible 
are free to accept them for history. For my own part, I pro 
pose to myself throughout my whole work faithfully to record 
the traditions of the several nations. The Egyptians maintain 
that Ceres and Bacchus preside in the realms below. They 
were also the first to broach the opinion, that the soul of man 
is immortal, 1 and that, when the body dies, it enters into the 
form of an animal 2 which is born at the moment, thence passing 
on from one animal into another, until it has circled through 
the forms of all the creatures which tenant the earth, the water, 
and the air, after which it enters again into a human frame, and 
is born anew. The whole period of the transmigration is (they 
say) three thousand years. There are Greek writers, some of an 
earlier, some of a later date, 3 who have borrowed this doctrine 
from the Egyptians, and put it forward as their own. I could 
mention their names, but I abstain from doing so. 

124. Till the death of Rhampsinitus, the priests said, Egypt 
was excellently governed, and flourished greatly ; but after him 
Cheops succeeded to the throne, and plunged into all manner 
of wickedness. He closed the temples, and forbade the Egyp 
tians to offer sacrifice, compelling them instead to labour, one 
and aD, in his service. Some were required to drag blocks of 
stone down to the Nile from the quarries in the Arabian range 
of hills; others received the blocks after they had been con 
veyed in boats across the river, and drew them to the range of 

1 This was the great doctrine of the Egyptians, and their belief in it is 
everywhere proclaimed in the paintings of the tombs. But the souls of 
wicked men alone appear to have suffered the disgrace of entering the body 
of an animal, when, weighed in the balance before the tribunal of 
Osiris, they were pronounced unworthy to enter the abode of the blessed. 

1 [As a matter of fact we can find no trace in Egyptian religion of this 
doctrine of " metempsychosis/ at least in the form in which Herodotus 
gives it. E. H. B.] 

1 Pythagoras is supposed to be included among the later writers. Hero 
dotus, with more judgment and fairness, and on better information, than 
some modern writers, allows that the Greeks borrowed their early lessons 
of philosophy and science from Egypt. 

178 The History of Herodotus BOOK a 

hills called the Libyan. 1 A hundred thousand men laboured 
constantly, and were relieved every three months by a fresh 
lot. It took ten years oppression of the people to make the 
causeway 2 for the conveyance of the stones, a work not much 
inferior, in my judgment, to the pyramid itself. This cause 
way is five furlongs in length, ten fathoms wide, and in height, 
at the highest part, eight fathoms. It is built of polished stone, 
and is covered with carvings of animals. To make it took ten 
years, as I said or rather to make the causeway, the works on 
the mound 3 where the pyramid stands, and the underground 
chambers, which Cheops intended as vaults for his own use: 
these last were built on a sort of island, surrounded by water 
introduced from the Nile by a canal. 4 The Pyramid itself was 
twenty years in building. It is a square, eight hundred feet 
each way, 5 and the height the same, built entirely of polished 
stone, fitted together with the utmost care. The stones of 
which it is composed are none of them less than thirty feet in 
length. 6 

125. The pyramid was built in steps, 7 battlement- wise, as it 
is called, or, according to others, altar-wise. After laying the 
stones for the base, they raised the remaining stones to their 

1 The western hills being specially appropriated to tombs in all the 
places where pyramids were built will account for these monuments being 
on that side of the Nile. The abode of the dead was supposed to be the 
West, the land of darkness where the sun ended his course. 

* The remains oi two causeways still exist the northern one, which is 
the largest, corresponding with the great pyramid, as the other does with 
the third. 

8 This was levelling the top of the hill to form a platform. A piece ol 
rock was also left in the centre as a nucleus on which the pyramid was 

4 There is no trace of a canal, nor is there any probability of its having 

5 The dimensions of the great pyramid were each face, 756 ft., now 
reduced to 732 ft.; original height when entire, 480 ft. 9 in., now 460 ft. 
9 in.; angles at the base, 51 50 ; angle at the apex, 76 20 ; it covered an 
area of 571,536 square feet, now 535,824 square feet. Herodotus measure 
ment of eight plethra, or 800 ft., for each face, is not very far from the 
truth as a round number ; but the height, which he says was the same, is 
far from correct. 

* The size of the stones varies. Herodotus alludes to those of the outer 
surface, which are now gone. 

7 These steps, or successive stages, had their faces nearly perpendicular, 
or at an angle of about 75*, and the triangular space, formed by each 
projecting considerably beyond the one immediately above it, was after 
wards filled in, thus completing the general form of the pyramid. It is a 
curious question if the Egyptians brought with them the idea of the 
pyramid, or sepulchral mound, when they migrated into the valley of the 
Nile, and if it originated in the same idea as the tower, built also in stages, 
oi Assyria, and the pagoda of India. 

CHAP. 125-126. Pyramid of Cheops 179 

places by means of machines l formed of short wooden planks. 
The first machine raised them from the ground to the top of 
the first step. On this there was another machine, which re 
ceived the stone upon its arrival, and conveyed it to the second 
step, whence a third machine advanced it still higher. Either 
they had as many machines as there were steps in the pyramid, 
or possibly they had but a single machine, which, being easily 
moved, was transferred from tier to tier as the stone rose both 
accounts are given, and therefore I mention both. The upper 
portion of the pyramid was finished first, then the middle, and 
finally the part which was lowest and nearest the ground. There 
is an inscription in Egyptian characters 2 on the pyramid which 
records the quantity of radishes, onions, and garlick consumed 
by the labourers who constructed it; and I perfectly well re 
member that the interpreter who read the writing to me said 
that the money expended in this way was 1600 talents of silver. 
If this then is a true record, what a vast sum must have been 
spent on the iron tools 3 used in the work, and on the feeding 
and clothing of the labourers, considering the length of time the 
work lasted, which has already been stated, and the additional 
time no small space, I imagine which must have been occu 
pied by the quarrying of the stones, their conveyance, and the 
formation of the underground apartments. 

126. The wickedness of Cheops reached to such a pitch that, 
when he had spent all his treasures and wanted more, he sent 
his daughter to the stews, with orders to procure him a certain 
sum how much I cannot say, for I was not told ; she procured 
it, however, and at the same time, bent on leaving a monument 
which should perpetuate her own memory, she required each 
man to make her a present of a stone towards the works which 
she contemplated. With these stones she built the pyramid 
which stands midmost of the three that are in front of the great 
pyramid, measuring along each side a hundred and fifty feet. 4 

1 The notion of Diodorus that machines were not yet invented is suffi 
ciently disproved by common sense and by the assertion of Herodotus. 
The position of these pyramids is very remarkable in being placed so exactly 
facing the four cardinal points that the variation of the compass may be 
ascertained from them. This accuracy would imply some astronomical 
knowledge and careful observations at that time. 

1 This must have been in hieroglyphics, the monumental character. 
The outer stones being gone, it is impossible to verify, or disprove, the 
assertion of Herodotus. 

Iron was known in Egypt at a very early time. 

1 The story of the daughter of Cheops is on a par with that of the daughter 
of Rhampsinitus; and we may be certain that Herodotus never received 

i8o The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

127. Cheops reigned, the Egyptians said, fifty years, and was 
succeeded at his demise by Chephren, his brother. 

Chephren imitated the conduct of his predecessor, and, like 
him, built a pyramid, which did not, however, equal the dimen 
sions of his brother s. Of this I am certain, for I measured 
them both myself. 1 It has no subterraneous apartments, nor 
any canal from the Nile to supply it with water, as the other 
pyramid has. In that, the Nile water, introduced through an 
artificial duct, surrounds an island, where the body of Cheops 
is said to lie. Chephren built his pyramid close to the great 
pyramid of Cheops, and of the same dimensions, except that he 
lowered the height forty feet. For the basement he employed 
the many-coloured stone of Ethiopia. 2 These two pyramids 
stand both on the same hill, an elevation not far short of a 
hundred feet in height. The reign of Chephren lasted fifty-six 

128. Thus the affliction of Egypt endured for the space of 
one hundred and six years, during the whole of which time the 
temples were shut up and never opened. The Egyptians so 
detest the memory of these kings that they do not much like 
even to mention their names. Hence they commonly call the 
pyramids after Philition, 3 a shepherd who at that time fed his 
flocks about the place. 

129. After Chephren, Mycerinus (they said), son of Cheops, 
ascended the throne. This prince disapproved the conduct of 
his father, re-opened the temples, and allowed the people, who 

it from " the priests," whose language he did not understand, but from 
some of the Greek " interpreters," by whom he was so often misled. 

1 The measurements of the Second Pyramid are : present base, 690 ft. ; 
former base (according to Colonel Howard Vyse), 707 ft. 9 in.; present 
perpendicular height (calculating the angle 52 20 ), 446 ft. 9 in.; former 
height, 454 ft. 3 in. Herodotus supposes it was 40 feet less in height than 
the Great Pyramid, but the real difference was only 24 ft. 6 in. It is 
singular that Herodotus takes no notice of the sphinx, which was made at 
least as early as the i8th dynasty, as it bears the name of Thothmes IV. 

* This was red granite of Syene ; and Herodotus appears to be correct in 
saying that the lower tier was of that stone, or at least the casing, which 
was all that he could see; and the numbers of fragments of granite lying 
about this pyramid show that it has been partly faced with it. The casing 
which remains on the upper part is of the limestone of the eastern hills. 
All the pyramids were opened by the Arab caliphs in the hopes of finding 

3 This can have no connection with the invasion, or the memory, of the 
Shepherd-kings, at least as founders of the pyramids, for those monuments 
were raised long before the rule of the Shepherd- kings in Egypt. In the 
mind of the Egyptians two periods of oppression may have gradually 
come to be confounded, and they may have ascribed to the tyranny of the 
Shepherd-kings what in reality belonged to a far earlier time of misrule. 

CHAP. 127-132. Golden Cow at Sai s 1 8 1 

were ground down to the lowest point of misery, to return to 
their occupations, and to resume the practice of sacrifice. His 
justice in the decision of causes was beyond that of all the 
former kings. The Egyptians praise him in this respect more 
highly than any of their other monarchs, declaring that he not 
only gave his judgments with fairness, but also, when any one 
was dissatisfied with his sentence, made compensation to him 
out of his own purse, and thus pacified his anger. Mycerinus 
had established his character for mildness, and was acting as I 
have described, when the stroke of calamity fell on him. First 
of all his daughter died, the only child that he possessed. Ex 
periencing a bitter grief at this visitation, in his sorrow he 
conceived the wish to entomb his child in some unusual way. 
He therefore caused a cow to be made of wood, and after 
the interior had been hollowed out, he had the whole surface 
coated with gold ; and in this novel tomb laid the dead body of 
his daughter. 

130. The cow was not placed under ground, but continued 
visible to my times: it was at Sais, in the royal palace, where 
it occupied a chamber richly adorned. Every day there are 
burnt before it aromatics of every kind; and all night long a 
lamp is kept burning in the apartment. In an adjoining 
chamber are statues which the priests at Sais declared to repre 
sent the various concubines of Mycerinus. They are colossal 
figures in wood, of the number of about twenty, and are repre 
sented naked. Whose images they really are, I cannot say I 
can only repeat the account which was given to me. 

131. Concerning these colossal figures and the sacred cow, 
there is also another tale narrated, which runs thus : " Mycerinus 
was enamoured of his daughter, and offered her violence the 
damsel for grief hanged herself, and Mycerinus entombed her 
in the cow. Then her mother cut off the hands of all her 
tiring-maids, because they had sided with the father, and be 
trayed the child ; and so the statues of the maids have no hands." 
All this is mere fable in my judgment, especially what is said 
about the hands of the colossal statues. I could plainly see 
that the figures had only lost their hands through the effect of 
time. They had dropped off, and were still lying on the ground 
about the feet of the statues. 

132. As for the cow, the greater portion of it is hidden by a 
scarlet coverture; the head and neck, however, which are 
visible, are coated very thickly with gold, and between the 

1 82 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

horns there is a representation in gold of the orb of the sun. 
The figure is not erect, but lying down, with the limbs under 
the body; the dimensions being fully those of a large animal of 
the kind. Every year it is taken from the apartment where it 
is kept, and exposed to the light of day this is done at the 
season when the Egyptians beat themselves in honour of one of 
their gods, whose name I am unwilling to mention in connection 
with such a matter. 1 They say that the daughter of Mycerinus 
requested her father in her dying moments to allow her once a 
year to see the sun. 

133. After the death of his daughter, Mycerinus was visited 
with a second calamity, of which I shall now proceed to give an 
account. An oracle reached him from the town of Buto, which 
said, " Six years only shalt thou live upon the earth, and in the 
seventh thou shalt end thy days." Mycerinus, indignant, sent 
an angry message to the oracle, reproaching the god with his 
injustice " My father and uncle," he said, " though they shut 
up the temples, took no thought of the gods, and destroyed 
multitudes of men, nevertheless enjoyed a long life ; I, who am 
pious, am to die so soon 1 There came in reply a second 
message from the oracle " For this very reason is thy life 
brought so quickly to a close thou hast not done as it behoved 
thee. Egypt was fated to suffer affliction one hundred and fifty 
years the two kings who preceded thee upon the throne under 
stood this thou hast not understood it." Mycerinus, when 
this answer reached him, perceiving that his doom was fixed, 
had lamps prepared, which he lighted every day at eventime, 
and feasted and enjoyed himself unceasingly both day and 
night, moving about in the marsh-country and the woods, and 
visiting all the places that he heard were agreeable sojourns. 
His wish was to prove the oracle false, by turning the nights 
into days, and so living twelve years in the space of six. 

134. He too left a pyramid, but much inferior in size to his 
father s. It is a square, each side of which falls short of three 
plethra by twenty feet, and is built for half its height of the 
stone of Ethiopia. Some of the Greeks call it the work of 
Rhodopis the courtesan, but they report falsely. It seems to 
me that these persons cannot have any real knowledge who 
Rhodopis was; otherwise they would scarcely have ascribed to 
her a work on which uncounted treasures, so to speak, must 
have been expended* Rhodopis also lived during the reign of 

1 This was Osiris. 

CHAP. 133-135. Rhodopis the Courtesan 183 

Amasis, not of Mycerinus, and was thus very many years later 
than the time of the kings who built the pyramids. She was a 
Thracian by birth, and was the slave of ladmon, son of Hephaes- 
topolis, a Samian. ^Esop, the fable-writer, was one of her 
fellow-slaves. That JEsop belonged to ladmon is proved by 
many facts among others, by this. When the Delphians, in 
obedience to the command of the oracle, made proclamation 
that if any one claimed compensation for the murder of ^Esop 
he should receive it, the person who at last came forward was 
ladmon, grandson of the former ladmon, and he received the 
compensation. ALsop therefore must certainly have been the 
former ladmon s slave. 

135. Rhodopis really arrived in Egypt under the conduct of 
Xantheus the Samian; she was brought there to exercise her 
trade, but was redeemed for a vast sum by Charaxus, a Mytile- 
nsean, the son of Scamandronymus, and brother of Sappho the 
poetess. 1 After thus obtaining her freedom, she remained in 
Egypt, and, as she was very beautiful, amassed great wealth, 
for a person in her condition; not, however, enough to enable 
her to erect such a work as this pyramid. Any one who likes 
may go and see to what the tenth part of her wealth amounted, 
and he will thereby learn that her riches must not be imagined 
to have been very wonderfully great. Wishing to leave a 
memorial of herself in Greece, she determined to have some 
thing made the like of which was not to be found in any temple, 
and to offer it at the shrine at Delphi. So she set apart a tenth 
of her possessions, and purchased with the money a quantity of 
iron spits, such as are fit for roasting oxen whole, whereof she 
made a present to the oracle. They are still to be seen there, 
lying of a heap, behind the altar which the Chians dedicated, 
opposite the sanctuary. Naucratis seems somehow to be the 
place where such women are most attractive. First there was 
this Rhodopis of whom we have been speaking, so celebrated a 
person that her name came to be familiar to all the Greeks; 
and, afterwards, there was another, called Archidice, notorious 
throughout Greece, though not so much talked of as her pre 
decessor. Charaxus, after ransoming Rhodopis, returned to 
Mytilene, and was often lashed by Sappho in her poetry. But 
enough has been said on the subject of this courtesan. 

1 Charaxus, the brother of Sappho, traded in wine from Lesbos, which he 
was in the habit of taking to Naucratis, the entrepot of all Greek mer 

I 405 *G 

184 The History of Herodotus BOOK IL 

136. After Mycerinus, the priests said, Asychis l ascended the 
throne. He built the eastern gateway a of the temple of Vulcan, 
which in size and beauty far surpasses the other three. All the 
four gateways have figures graven on them, and a vast amount 
of architectural ornament, but the gateway of Asychis is by far 
the most richly adorned. In the reign of this king, money 
being scarce and commercial dealings straitened, a law was 
passed that the borrower might pledge his father s body to raise 
the sum whereof he had need. A proviso was appended to this 
law, giving the lender authority over the entire sepulchre of the 
borrower, so that a man who took up money under this pledge, 
if he died without paying the debt, could not obtain burial 
either in his own ancestral tomb, or in any other, nor could he 
during his lifetime bury in his own tomb any member of his 
family. The same king, desirous of eclipsing all his predecessors 
upon the throne, left as a monument of his reign a pyramid of 
brick. 8 It bears an inscription, cut in stone, which runs thus: 
" Despise me not in comparison with the stone pyramids; 
for I surpass them all, as much as Jove surpasses the other 
gods. A pole was plunged into a lake, and the mud which clave 
thereto was gathered; and bricks were made of the mud, and 
so I was formed." Such were the chief actions of this prince. 

137. He was succeeded on the throne, they said, by a blind 
man, a native of Anysis, whose own name also was Anysis. 
Under him Egypt was invaded by a vast army of Ethiopians, 
led by Sabacos, 4 their king. The blind Anysis fled away to the 
marsh-country, and the Ethiopian was lord of the land for fifty 
years, during which his mode of rule was the following: When 

1 It is probable that he was Shishak, of the 22nd dynasty. 
* The lofty pyramidal towers forming the facades of the courts, or vesti 
bules, of the temple. 

3 The use of crude brick was general in Egypt, for dwelling-houses, 
tombs, and ordinary buildings, the walls of towns, fortresses, and of the 
sacred enclosures of temples, and for all purposes where stone was not 
required, which last was nearly confined to temples, quays, and reservoirs. 
Even some small ancient temples were of crude bricks, which were merely 
baked hi the sun, and never burnt in early Pharaonic times. A great 
number of people were employed in this extensive manufacture; it was 
an occupation to which many prisoners of war were condemned, who, like 
the Jews, worked for the king, bricks being a government monopoly. 

4 Herodotus mentions only one Sabaco, but the monuments and Manetho 
notice two, the Sabakon and Sebich6s (Sevechos) of Manetho, called 
Shebek in the hieroglyphics. One of these is the same as So (Sava), the 
contemporary of Hosea, King of Israel, who is said (in 2 Kings xvii. 4) 
to have made a treaty with the King of Egypt, and to have refused the 
annual tribute to Shaknanezer, King of Assyria. 

CHAP. 136-139. Temple of Bubastis 185 

an Egyptian was guilty of an offence, his plan was not to 
punish him with death: instead of so doing, he sentenced him, 
according to the nature of his crime, to raise the ground to a 
greater or a less extent in the neighbourhood of the city to 
which he belonged. Thus the cities came to be even more 
elevated than they were before. As early as the time of Sesos- 
tris, they had been raised by those who dug the canals in his 
reign; this second elevation of the soil under the Ethiopian 
king gave them a very lofty position. Among the many cities 
which thus attained to a great elevation, none (I think) was 
raised so much as the town called Bubastis, where there is a 
temple of the goddess Bubastis, which well deserves to be de 
scribed. Other temples may be grander, and may have cost 
more in the building, but there is none so pleasant to the eye 
as this of Bubastis. The Bubastis of the Egyptians is the same 
as the Artemis (Diana) of the Greeks. 

138. The following is a description of this edifice: 1 Except 
ing the entrance, the whole forms an island. Two artificial 
channels from the Nile, one on either side of the temple, encom 
pass the building, leaving only a narrow passage by which it is 
approached. These channels are each a hundred feet wide, and 
are thickly shaded with trees. The gateway is sixty feet in 
height, and is ornamented with figures cut upon the stone, six 
cubits high and well worthy of notice. The temple stands in 
the middle of the city, and is visible on all sides as one walks 
round it; for as the city has been raised up by embankment, 
while the temple has been left untouched in its original condi 
tion, you look down upon it wheresoever you are. A low wall 
runs round the enclosure, having figures engraved upon it, and 
inside there is a grove of beautiful tall trees growing round the 
shrine, which contains the image of the goddess. The enclosure 
is a furlong in length, and the same in breadth. The entrance 
to it is by a road paved with stone for a distance of about three 
furlongs, which passes straight through the market-place with 
an easterly direction, and is about four hundred feet in width. 
Trees of an extraordinary height grow on each side the road., 
which conducts from the temple of Bubastis to that of Mercury. 

139. The Ethiopian finally quitted Egypt, the priests said, 

1 This account of the position of the temple of Bubastis is very accurate. 
The height of the mound, the site of the temple in a low space beneath the 
houses, from which you look down upon it, are the very peculiarities any 
one would remark on visiting the remains at Tel Basta. 

1 86 The History of Herodotus BOOK IL 

by a hasty flight under the following circumstances. He saw 
in his sleep a vision: a man stood by his side, and counselled 
him to gather together all the priests of Egypt and cut every 
one of them asunder. On this, according to the account which 
he himself gave, it came into his mind that the gods intended 
hereby to lead him to commit an act of sacrilege, which would 
be sure to draw down upon him some punishment either at the 
hands of gods or men. So he resolved not to do the deed sug 
gested to him, but rather to retire from Egypt, as the time 
during which it was fated that he should hold the country had 
now (he thought) expired. For before he left Ethiopia he had 
been told by the oracles which are venerated there, that he was 
to reign fifty years over Egypt. The years were now fled, and 
the dream had come to trouble him; he therefore of his own 
accord withdrew from the land. 

140. As soon as Sabacos was gone, the blind king left the 
marshes, and resumed the government. He had lived in the 
marsh-region the whole time, having formed for himself an 
island there by a mixture of earth and ashes. While he re 
mained, the natives had orders to bring him food unbeknown 
to the Ethiopian, and latterly, at his request, each man had 
brought him, with the food, a certain quantity of ashes. Before 
Amyrtaeus, 1 no one was able to discover the site of this island, 2 
which continued unknown to the kings of Egypt who preceded 
him on the throne for the space of seven hundred years and 
more. 3 The name which it bears is Elbo. It is about ten 
furlongs across in each direction. 

141. The next king, I was told, was a priest of Vulcan, called 
Sethos. This monarch despised and neglected the warrior class 
of the Egyptians, as though he did not need their services. 
Among other indignities which he offered them, he took from 
them the lands which they had possessed under all the previous 
kings, consisting of twelve acres of choice land for each warrior. 
Afterwards, therefore, when Sanacharib, king of the Arabians 4 

1 See Book iii. ch. 17. 

* This island appears to have stood at the S.E. corner of the lake of Buto. 
3 Niebuhr proposes to read 300 for 700 (T or t for Sk), remarking that 

these signs are often confounded. It certainly does seem almost incredible 
that Herodotus should have committed the gross chronological error in 
volved in the text as it stands, especially as his date for Psammetichus is 
so nearly correct. 

* It is curious to find Sennacherib called the " king of the Arabians and 
Assyrians " an order of words which seems even to regard him as rather 
a.n Arabian than an Assyrian king. In the same spirit his army is termed 

CHAP. 140-142. Priests of Vulcan 187 

and Assyrians, marched his vast army into Egypt, the warriors 
one and all refused to come to his aid. On this the monarch, 
greatly distressed, entered into the inner sanctuary, and, before 
the image of the god, bewailed the fate which impended over 
him. As he wept he fell asleep, and dreamed that the god 
came and stood at his side, bidding him be of good cheer, and 
go boldly forth to meet the Arabian host, which would do him 
no hurt, as he himself would send those who should help him. 
Seth6s, then, relying on the dream, collected such of the Egyp 
tians as were willing to follow him, who were none of them 
warriors, but traders, artisans, and market people; and with 
these marched to Pelusium, which commands the entrance into 
Egypt, and there pitched his camp. As the two armies lay here 
opposite one another, there came in the night a multitude of 
field-mice, which devoured all the quivers and bowstrings of 
the enemy, and ate the thongs by which they managed their 
shields. Next morning they commenced their flight, and great 
multitudes fell, as they had no arms with which to defend them 
selves. There stands to this day in the temple of Vulcan, a 
stone statue of Sethos, with a mouse in his hand, 1 and an in 
scription to this effect " Look on me, and learn to reverence 
the gods." 

142. Thus far I have spoken on the authority of the Egyp 
tians and their priests. They declare that from their first king 
to this last-mentioned monarch, the priest of Vulcan, was a 
period of three hundred and forty -one generations; such, at 
least, they say, was the number both of their kings, and of their 
high-priests, during this interval. Now three hundred genera- 

afterwards " the Arabian host." It is impossible altogether to defend the 
view which Herodotus here discloses, but we may understand how such a 
mistake was possible, if we remember how Arabians were mixed up with 
other races in Lower Mesopotamia and what an extensive influence a great 
Assyrian king would exercise over the tribes of the desert, especially those 
bordering on Mesopotamia. The ethnic connection of the two great 
Semitic races would render union between them comparatively easy; and 
so we find Arabian kings at one time paramount over Assyria, while now 
apparently the case was reversed, and an Assyrian prince bore sway over 
some considerable number of the Arab tribes. 

1 If any particular reverence was paid to mice at Memphis, it probably 
arose from some other mysterious reason. They were emblems of the 
generating and perhaps of the producing principle; and some thought 
them to be endued with prophetic power (a merit attributed now in some 
degree to rats on certain occasions). The people of Troas are said to have 
revered mice " because they gnawed the bowstrings of their enemies," 
and Apollo, who was called Smintheus (from ffplvOos, a " mouse "), was 
represented on coins of Alexandria Troas with a mouse in his hand. 

1 88 The History of Herodotus BOOK IL 

tions of men make ten thousand years, three generations filling 
up the century; and the remaining forty-one generations make 
thirteen hundred and forty years. Thus the whole number of 
years is eleven thousand, three hundred and forty; in which 
entire space, they said, no god had ever appeared in a human 
form; nothing of this kind had happened either under the 
former or under the later Egyptian kings. The sun, however, 
had within this period of time, on four several occasions, moved 
from his wonted course, twice rising where he now sets, and 
twice setting where he now rises. Egypt was in no degree 
affected by these changes; the productions of the land, and of 
the river, remained the same; nor was there anything unusual 
either in the diseases or the deaths. 

143. When Hecataeus the historian l was at Thebes, and, dis 
coursing of his genealogy, traced his descent to a god in the 
person of his sixteenth ancestor, the priests of Jupiter did to 
him exactly as they afterwards did to me, though I made no 
boast of my family. They led me into the inner sanctuary, 
which is a spacious chamber, and showed me a multitude of 
colossal statues, in wood, which they counted up, and found to 
amount to the exact number they had said; the custom being 
for every high-priest during his lifetime to set up his statue in 
the temple. As they showed me the figures and reckoned them 
up, they assured me that each was the son of the one preceding 
him; and this they repeated throughout the whole line, begin 
ning with the representation of the priest last deceased, and 
continuing till they had completed the series. When Hecataeus, 
in giving his genealogy, mentioned a god as his sixteenth 
ancestor, the priests opposed their genealogy to his, going 
through this list, and refusing to allow that any man was ever 
born of a god. Their colossal figures were each, they said, a 
Piromis, born of a Piromis, and the number of them was three 
hundred and forty -five; through the whole series Piromis 

1 This is the first distinct mention of Hecataeus, who has been glanced at 
more than once. (Vide supra, chs. 21, 23.) He had nourished from 
about B.C. 520 to B.C. 475, and had done far more than any other writer 
to pave the way for Herodotus. His works were of two kinds, geographical 
and historical. Under the former head he wrote a description oi the known 
world (F^y ireplodos), chiefly the result of his own travels, which must have 
been of considerable service to our author. Under the latter he wrote 
his genealogies, which were for the most part mythical, but contained 
occasionally important history (vide infra, vi. 137)- The political influence 
of Hecataeus is noticed by Herodotus in two passages (v. 35, 125). He is 
the only prose- writer whom Herodotus mentions by name. 

CHAP. 143-146. Reign of the Gods ] 

followed Piromis, and the line did not run up either to a god or a 
hero. The word Piromis may be rendered " gentleman." 

144. Of such a nature were, they said, the beings represented 
by these images they were very far indeed from being gods. 
However, in the times anterior to them it was otherwise; then 
Egypt had gods for its rulers, who dwelt upon the earth with 
men, one being always supreme above the rest. The last of 
these was Horus, the son of Osiris, called by the Greeks Apollo. 
He deposed Typhon, 1 and ruled over Egypt as its last god-king. 
Osiris is named Dionysus (Bacchus) by the Greeks. 

145. The Greeks regard Hercules, Bacchus, and Pan as the 
youngest of the gods. With the Egyptians, contrariwise, Pan is 
exceedingly ancient, and belongs to those whom they call the 
eight gods," who existed before the rest. Hercules is one of 
the gods of the second order, who are known as " the twelve; 
and Bacchus belongs to the gods of the third order, whom the 
twelve produced. I have already mentioned how many years 
intervened according to the Egyptians between the birth of 
Hercules and the reign of Amasis. 2 From Pan to this period 
they count a still longer time; and even from Bacchus, who is 
the youngest of the three, they reckon fifteen thousand years to 
the reign of that king. In these matters they say they cannot 
be mistaken, as they have always kept count of the years, and 
noted them in their registers. But from the present day to the 
time of Bacchus, the reputed son of Semele, daughter of Cadmus, 
is a period of not more than sixteen hundred years; to that of 
Hercules, son of Alcmena, is about nine hundred; while to the 
time of Pan, son of Penelope" (Pan, according to the Greeks, was 
her child by Mercury), is a shorter space than to the Trojan 
war, eight hundred years or thereabouts. 

146. It is open to all to receive whichever he may prefer of 
these two traditions; my own opinion about them has been 
already declared. If indeed these gods had been publicly 
known, and had grown old in Greece, as was the case with 
Hercules, son of Amphitryon, Bacchus, son of Semele, and Pan, 
son of Penelope*, it might have been said that the last-mentioned 
personages were men who bore the names of certain previously 
existing deities. But Bacchus, according to the Greek tradition, 
was no sooner born than he was sewn up in Jupiter s thigh, and 

1 Typhon, or rather Seth, the brother of Osiris, was the abstract idea of 
" evil," as Osiris was of " good/ 
1 Supra, ch. 43. 

190 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

carried off to Nysa, above Egypt, in Ethiopia; and as to Pan, 
they do not even profess to know what happened to him after 
his birth. To me, therefore, it is quite manifest that the names 
of these gods became known to the Greeks after those of their 
other deities, and that they count their birth from the time when 
they first acquired a knowledge of them. Thus far my narrative 
rests on the accounts given by the Egyptians. 

147. In what follows I have the authority, not of the Egyp 
tians only, but of others also who agree with them. I shall 
speak likewise in part from my own observation. When the 
Egyptians regained their liberty after the reign of the priest of 
Vulcan, unable to continue any while without a king, they 
divided Egypt into twelve districts, and set twelve kings over 
them. These twelve kings, united together by intermarriages, 
ruled Egypt in peace, having entered into engagements with one 
another not to depose any of their number, nor to aim at any 
aggrandisement of one above the rest, but to dwell together in 
perfect amity. Now the reason why they made these stipula 
tions, and guarded with care against their infraction, was, 
because at the very first establishment of the twelve kingdoms, 
an oracle had declared " That he among them who should 
pour in Vulcan s temple a libation from a cup of bronze, would 
become monarch of the whole land of Egypt." Now the twelve 
held their meetings at all the temples. 

148. To bind themselves yet more closely together, it seemed 
good to them to leave a common monument. In pursuance of 
this resolution they made the Labyrinth which lies a little above 
Lake Mceris, in the neighbourhood of the place called the city 
of Crocodiles. 1 I visited this place, and found it to surpass 
description; for if all the walls and other great works of the 
Greeks could be put together in one, they would not equal, 
either for labour or expense, this Labyrinth; 2 and yet the temple 
of Ephesus is a building worthy of note, 8 and so is the temple of 

1 Afterwards called Arsinoe, from the wife and sister of Ptolemy Phila 
delphia, like the port on the Red Sea (now Suez). 

3 The admiration expressed by Herodotus for the Labyrinth is singular, 
when there were so many far more magnificent buildings at Thebes, of 
which he takes no notice. It was probably the beauty of the stone, the rich 
ness of its decoration, and the peculiarity of its plan that struck him so 

3 The original temple of Diana at Ephesus seems to have been destroyed 
by the Cimmerians. The temple which Herodotus saw was then begun 
to be built by Chersiphron of Cnossus and his son Metagenes. These 
architects did not live to complete their work, which was finished by 
Demetrius and Peonius of Ephesus, the rebuilder of the temple of Apollo 

CHAP. 147-149. Lake Mceris 1 9 1 

Samos. 1 The pyramids likewise surpass description, and are 
severally equal to a number of the greatest works of the Greeks, 
but the Labyrinth surpasses the pyramids. It has twelve courts, 
all of them roofed, with gates exactly opposite one another, six 
looking to the north, and six to the south. A single wall sur 
rounds the entire building. There are two different sorts of 
chambers throughout half under ground, half above ground, 
the latter built upon the former; the whole number of these 
chambers is three thousand, fifteen hundred of each kind. The 
upper chambers I myself passed through and saw, and what I 
say concerning them is from my own observation ; of the under 
ground chambers I can only speak from report: for the keepers 
of the building could not be got to show them, since they con 
tained (as they said) the sepulchres of the kings who built the 
Labyrinth, and also those of the sacred crocodiles. Thus it is 
from hearsay only that I can speak of the lower chambers. 
The upper chambers, however, I saw with my own eyes, and 
found them to excel all other human productions; for the 
passages through the houses, and the varied windings of the 
paths across the courts, excited in me infinite admiration, as I 
passed from the courts into chambers, and from the chambers 
into colonnades, and from the colonnades into fresh houses, and 
again from these into courts unseen before. The roof was 
throughout of stone, like the walls; and the walls were carved 
all over with figures; every court was surrounded with a colon 
nade, which was built of white stones, exquisitely fitted together. 
At the corner of the Labyrinth stands a pyramid, forty fathoms 
high, with large figures engraved on it; which is entered by a 
subterranean passage. 

149. Wonderful as is the Labyrinth, the work called the Lake 
of Moeris, which is close by the Labyrinth, is yet more astonish 
ing. The measure of its circumference is sixty schcenes, or 
three thousand six hundred furlongs, which is equal to the 
entire length of Egypt along the sea-coast. The lake stretches 
in its longest direction from north to south, and in its deep 
est parts is of the depth of fifty fathoms. It is manifestly an 
artificial excavation, for nearly in the centre there stand two 
pyramids, 2 rising to the height of fifty fathoms above the surface 

at Branchidae. The architecture of the temple of Chersiphron was Ionic, 
After its destruction by Eratostratus in the year of Alexander s birth, 
the temple of Diana was rebuilt with greater magnificence, and probably on 
a larger scale, than before. 

1 Vide infra, iii. 60. No traces remain of these pyramids. 

192 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

of the water, and extending as far beneath, crowned each of 
them with a colossal statue sitting upon a throne. Thus these 
pyramids are one hundred fathoms high, which is exactly a 
furlong (stadium) of six hundred feet: the fathom being six feet 
in length, or four cubits, which is the same thing, since a cubit 
measures six, and a foot four, palms. The water of the lake 
does not come out of the ground, which is here excessively dry, 1 
but is introduced by a canal from the Nile. The current sets 
for six months into the lake from the river, and for the next six 
months into the river from the lake. While it runs outward it 
returns a talent of silver daily to the royal treasury from the 
fish that are taken, 2 but when the current is the other way the 
return sinks to one-third of that sum. 

150. The natives told me that there was a subterranean 
passage from this lake to the Libyan Syrtis, running westward 
into the interior by the hills above Memphis. As I could not 
anywhere see the earth which had been taken out when the 
excavation was made, and I was curious to know what had 
become of it, I asked the Egyptians who live closest to the lake 
where the earth had been put. The answer that they gave me 
I readily accepted as true, since I had heard of the same thing 
being done at Nineveh of the Assyrians. There, once upon a 
time, certain thieves, having formed a plan to get into their 
possession the vast treasures of Sardanapalus, the Ninevite 
king, which were laid up in subterranean treasuries, proceeded 
to tunnel a passage from the house where they lived into the 
royal palace, calculating the distance and the direction. At 
nightfall they took the earth from the excavation and carried it 
to the river Tigris, which ran by Nineveh, continuing to get rid 
of it in this manner until they had accomplished their purpose. 
It was exactly in the same way that the Egyptians disposed of 
the mould from their excavation, except that they did it by day 
and not by night; for as fast as the earth was dug, they carried 
it to the Nile, which they knew would disperse it far and wide. 
Such was the account which I received of the formation of this 

1 This is the nature of the basin on which the alluvial soil has been 
deposited ; but it resembles the whole valley of the Nile in being destitute 
of springs, which are only met with hi two or three places. The wells are 
all formed by the filtration of water from the river. 

*A great quantity of fish is caught even at the present day at the 
mouths of the canals, when they are closed and the water is prevented from 
returning to the Nile. 

CHAP. 150-152. Psammetichus 193 

151. The twelve kings for some time dealt honourably by one 
another, but at length it happened that on a certain occasion, 
when they had met to worship in the temple of Vulcan, the 
high-priest on the last day of the festival, in bringing forth the 
golden goblets from which they were wont to pour the libations, 
mistook the number, and brought eleven goblets only for the 
twelve princes. Psammetichus was standing last, and, being 
left without a cup, he took his helmet, which was of bronze, 1 
from off his head, stretched it out to receive the liquor, and so 
made his libation. All the kings were accustomed to wear 
helmets, and all indeed wore them at this very time. Nor was 
there any crafty design in the action of Psammetichus. The 
eleven, however, when they came to consider what had been 
done, and bethought them of the oracle which had declared 
" that he who, of the twelve, should pour a libation from a cup 
of bronze, the same would be king of the whole land of Egypt," 
doubted at first if they should not put Psammetichus to death. 
Finding, however, upon examination, that he had acted in the 
matter without any guilty intent, they did not think it would be 
just to kill him; but determined, instead, to strip him of the 
chief part of his power and to banish him to the marshes, for 
bidding him to leave them or to hold any communication with 
the rest of Egypt. 

152. This was the second time that Psammetichus had been 
driven into banishment. On a former occasion he had fled from 
Sabacos the Ethiopian, who had put his father Necos to death; 
and had taken refuge in Syria, from whence, after the retirement 
of the Ethiop in consequence of his dream, he was brought back 
by the Egyptians of the Saitic canton. Now it was his ill- 
fortune to be banished a second time by the eleven kings, on 
account of the libation which he had poured from his helmet; 
on this occasion he fled to the marshes. Feeling that he was an 
injured man, and designing to avenge himself upon his perse 
cutors, Psammetichus sent to the city of Buto, where there is an 
oracle of Latona, the most veracious of all the oracles of the 
Egyptians, and having inquired concerning means of vengeance, 
received for answer, that " Vengeance would come from the sea, 
when brazen men should appear." Great was his incredulity 
when this answer arrived, for never, he thought, would brazen 
men arrive to be his helpers. However, not long afterwards 

1 Bronze armour was of very early date in Egypt, and was therefore BO 
novelty in the reign of Psammetichus. 

194 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

certain Carians and lonians, who had left their country on a 
voyage of plunder, were carried by stress of weather to Egypt, 
where they disembarked, all equipped in their brazen armour, 
and were seen by the natives, one of whom carried the tidings 
to Psammetichus, and, as he had never before seen men clad in 
brass, he reported that brazen men had come from the sea and 
were plundering the plain. Psammetichus, perceiving at once 
that the oracle was accomplished, made friendly advances to 
the strangers, and engaged them, by splendid promises, to enter 
into his service. He then, with their aid and that of the 
Egyptians who espoused his cause, attacked the eleven and 
vanquished them. 1 

153. When Psammetichus had thus become sole monarch of 
Egypt, he built the southern gateway of the temple of Vulcan in 
Memphis, and also a court for Apis, in which Apis is kept when 
ever he makes his appearance in Egypt. This court is opposite 
the gateway of Psammetichus, and is surrounded with a colon 
nade and adorned with a multitude of figures. Instead of 
pillars, the colonnade rests upon colossal statues, twelve cubits 
in height. The Greek name for Apis is Epaphus. 

154. To the lonians and Carians who had lent him their 
assistance Psammetichus assigned as abodes two places opposite 
to each other, one on either side of the Nile, which received the 
name of " the Camps." He also made good all the splendid 
promises by which he had gained their support; and further, he 
intrusted to their care certain Egyptian children, whom they 
were to teach the language of the Greeks. These children, thus 
instructed, became the parents of the entire class of interpreters 
in Egypt. The lonians and Carians occupied for many years 
the places assigned them by Psammetichus, which lay near the 
sea, a little below the city of Bubastis, on the Pelusiac mouth of 
the Nile. 2 King Amasis, long afterwards, removed the Greeks 
hence, and settled them at Memphis to guard him against the 
native Egyptians. From the date of the original settlement of 
these persons in Egypt, we Greeks, through our intercourse with 
them, have acquired an accurate knowledge of the several events 

1 The improbability of a few Ionian and Carian pirates having enabled 
Psammetichus to obtain possession of the throne is sufficiently obvious. 
The Egyptians may not have been willing to inform Herodotus how long 
their kings had employed Greek mercenary troops before the Persian 

2 The site chosen for the Greek camps shows that they were thought 
necessary as a defence against foreign invasion from the eastward. 

CHAP. 153-156- Temple of Buto 195 

in Egyptian history, from the reign of Psammetichus down 
wards; but before his time no foreigners had ever taken up 
their residence in that land. The docks where their vessels 
were laid up, and trie ruins of their habitations, were still to be 
seen in my day at the place where they dwelt originally, before 
they were removed by Amasis. Such was the mode by which 
Psammetichus became master of Egypt. 

155. I have already made mention more than once of the 
Egyptian oracle, 1 and, as it well deserves notice, I shall now 
proceed to give an account of it more at length. It is a temple 
of Latona, 2 situated in the midst of a great city on the Seben- 
nytic mouth of the Nile, at some distance up the river from the 
sea. The name of the city, as I have before observed, is Buto; 
and in it are two other temples also, one of Apollo and one of 
Diana. Latona s temple, which contains the oracle, is a spacious 
building with a gateway ten fathoms in height, 3 The most 
wonderful thing that was actually to be seen about this temple 
was a chapel in the enclosure made of a single stone, the length 
and height of which were the same, each wall being forty cubits 
square, and the whole a single block! Another block of stone 
formed the roof, and projected at the eaves to the extent of four 

156. This, as I have said, was what astonished me the most, 
of all the things that were actually to be seen about the temple. 
The next greatest marvel was the island called Chemmis. This 
island lies in the middle of a broad and deep lake close by the 
temple, and the natives declare that it floats. For my own part 
I did not see it float, or even move; and I wondered greatly, 
when they told me concerning it, whether there be really such a 
thing as a floating island. It has a grand temple of Apollo 
built upon it, in which are three distinct altars. Palm-trees 
grow on it in great abundance, and many other trees, some of 
which bear fruit, while others are barren. The Egyptians tell 
the following story in connection with this island, to explain 
the way in which it first came to float: " In former times, 
when the isle was still fixed and motionless, Latona, one of the 
eight gods of the first order, who dwelt in the city of Buto, where 
now she has her oracle, received Apollo as a sacred charge from 

1 Supra, chs. 83, 133, and 152. There were several other oracles, but 
that of Buto, or Latona, was held hi the highest repute. (See ch. 83.) 
1 Herodotus says that this goddess was one of the great deities (ch. 156), 
* This is the height of the pyramidal towers of the propylaeuin, or court 
of entrance. 

196 The History of Herodotus BOOK n, 

Isis, and saved him by hiding him in what is now called the 
floating island. Typhon meanwhile was searching everywhere 
in hopes of finding the child of Osiris." (According to the 
Egyptians, Apollo and Diana are the children of Bacchus and 
Isis ; l while Latona is their nurse and their preserver. They 
call Apollo, in their language, Horus; Ceres they call Isis; 
Diana, Bubastis. From this Egyptian tradition, and from no 
other, it must have been that ^Eschylus, the son of Euphorion, 
took the idea, which is found in none of the earlier poets, of 
making Diana the daughter of Ceres.) The island, therefore, in 
consequence of this event, was first made to float. Such at 
least is the account which the Egyptians give. 

157. Psammetichus ruled Egypt for fifty-four years, during 
twenty-nine of which he pressed the siege of Azotus 2 without 
intermission, till finally he took the place. Azotus is a great 
town in Syria. Of all the cities that we know, none ever stood 
so long a siege. 

158. Psammetichus left a son called Necos, who succeeded 
him upon the throne. This prince was the first to attempt the 
construction of the canal to the Red Sea a work completed 
afterwards by Darius the Persian the length of which is four 
days journey, and the width such as to admit of two triremes 
being rowed along it abreast. The water is derived from the 
Nile, which the canal leaves a little above the city of Bubastis, 1 
near Patumus, the Arabian town, 4 being continued thence until 
it joins the Red Sea. At first it is carried along the Arabian 
side of the Egyptian plain, as far as the chain of hills opposite 
Memphis, whereby the plain is bounded, and in which lie the 
great stone quarries; here it skirts the base of the hills running 
in a direction from west to east; after which it turns, and enters 
a narrow pass, trending southwards from this point, until it 
enters the Arabian Gulf. From the northern sea to that which 
is called the southern or Erythraean, the shortest and quickest 

1 Apollo was Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris (Ceres and Bacchus) ; but 
he had no sister in Egyptian mythology, and Diana was Bubastis or 
Pasht, who appears to be one of the great deities. 

* Azotus is Ashdod of sacred Scripture. This shows how much the 
Egyptian power had declined when Psammetichus was obliged to besiege 
a city near the confines of Egypt for so long a time as twenty-nine years. 

The commencement of the Red Sea canal was in different places at 
various periods. In the time of Herodotus it left the Pelusiac branch a 
little above Bubastis. 

4 Patumus was not near the Red Sea, but at the commencement of the 
canal, and was the Pi thorn mentioned in Ezod. i. zi. 

CHAP. 157-160. NeCOS 197 

passage, which is from Mount Casius, the boundary between 
Egypt and Syria, to the Gulf of Arabia, is a distance of exactly 
one thousand furlongs. But the way by the canal is very much 
longer, on account of the crookedness of its course. A hundred 
and twenty thousand of the Egyptians, employed upon the work 
in the reign of Necos, lost their lives in making the excavation. 
He at length desisted from his undertaking, in consequence of 
an oracle which warned him " that he was labouring for the 
barbarian." l The Egyptians call by the name of barbarians all 
such as speak a language different from their own. 

159. Necos, when he gave up the construction of the canal, 
turned all his thoughts to war, and set to work to build a fleet 
of triremes, some intended for service in the northern sea, and 
some for the navigation of the Erythraean. These last were 
built in the Arabian Gulf, where the dry docks in which they 
lay are still visible. These fleets he employed wherever he had 
occasion; while he also made war by land upon the Syrians, 
and defeated them in a pitched battle at Magdolus, 2 after which 
he made himself master of Cadytis, 3 a large city of Syria. The 
dress which he wore on these occasions he sent to Branchidae 
in Milesia, as an offering to Apollo. 4 After having reigned in all 
sixteen years, 5 Necos died, and at his death bequeathed the 
throne to his son Psammis. 

160. In the reign of Psammis, ambassadors from Elis 6 arrived 

1 This was owing to the increasing power of the Asiatic nations. 

*The place here intended seems to be Megiddo, where Josiah lost his 
life, between Gilgal and Mount Carmel, on the road through Syria north 
wards, and not Migdol (Maydd>\6s), which was in Egypt. The similarity 
of the two names easily led to the mistake (2 Chron. xxxv. 22). 

3 After the defeat and death of Josiah, Neco proceeded to Carchemish, 
and on his return, finding that the Jews had put Jehoahaz, his son, on 
the throne, " he made him a prisoner at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, 
and, after having imposed a tribute of 100 talents of silver and a talent 
of gold upon Jerusalem, he made his brother Eliakim (whose name he 
changed to Jehoiakim) king in his stead, carrying Jehoahaz captive to 
Egypt, where he died " (2 Kings xxiii. 29). 

* For an account of the temple of Apollo at Branchidae, see Bk. i. ch. 157. 

* The reverses which soon afterwards befell the Egyptians were not 
mentioned to Herodotus. Neco was defeated at Carchemish by Nebuchad 
nezzar, in the 4th year of Jehoiakim (Jer. xlvi. 2), and lost all the territory 
which it had been so long the object of the Pharaohs to possess. For 

the king of Babylon took, from the river of Egypt unto the river 
Euphrates, all that pertained to the king of Egypt (2 Kings xxiv. 7). 
This river of Egypt was the small torrent-bed that formed the boundary 
of the country on the N.E. side by the modern El Ar6esh. Jerusalem was 
afterwards taken by Nebuchadnezzar. 

* This shows the great repute of the Egyptians for learning, even at this 
time, when they had greatly declined as a nation. 

The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

in Egypt, boasting that their arrangements for the conduct of 
the Olympic games were the best and fairest that could be 
devised, and fancying that not even the Egyptians, who sur 
passed all other nations in wisdom, could add anything to their 
perfection. When these persons reached Egypt, and explained 
the reason of their visit, the king summoned an assembly of all 
the wisest of the Egyptians. They met, and the Eleans having 
given them a full account of all their rules and regulations with 
respect to the contests, said that they had come to Egypt for the 
express purpose of learning whether the Egyptians could im 
prove the fairness of their regulations in any particular. The 
Egyptians considered awhile, and then made inquiry, If they 
allowed their own citizens to enter the lists? The Eleans 
answered, That the lists were open to all Greeks, whether they 
belonged to Elis or to any other state." Hereupon the Egyp 
tians observed, That if this were so, they departed from justice 
very widely, since it was impossible but that they would favour 
their own countrymen, and deal unfairly by foreigners. If 
therefore they really wished to manage the games with fairness, 
and if this was the object of their coming to Egypt, they advised 
them to confine the contests to strangers, and allow no native of 
Elis to be a candidate." Such was the advice which the Egyp 
tians gave to the Eleans. 

161. Psammis reigned only six years. He attacked Ethiopia, 
and died almost directly afterwards. Apries, his son, 1 succeeded 
him upon the throne, who, excepting Psammetichus, his great 
grandfather, was the most prosperous of all the kings that ever 
ruled over Egypt. The length of hi reign was twenty-five years, 
and in the course of it he marched an army to attack Sidon, and 
fought a battle with the king of Tyre by sea. When at length 
the time came that was fated to bring him woe, an occasion arose 
which I shall describe more fully in my Libyan history, only 
touching it very briefly here. An army despatched by Apries 
to attack Cyrene, having met with a terrible reverse, the Egyp 
tians laid the blame on him, imagining that he had, of malice 
prepense, sent the troops into the jaws of destruction. They be 
lieved he had wished a vast number of them to be slain, in order 
that he himself might reign with more security over the rest of 
the Egyptians. Indignant therefore at this usage, the soldiers 
who returned and the friends of the slain broke instantly into 

1 Apries is the Pharaoh- Hophra of Jeremiah (xliv. 30). 

P. 161-163. Amasis Revolts 199 

162. Apries, on learning these circumstances, sent Amasis to 
the rebels, to appease the tumult by persuasion. Upon his 
arrival, as he was seeking to restrain the malcontents by his 
exhortations, one of them, coming behind him, put a helmet on 
his head, saying, as he put it on, that he thereby crowned him 
king. Amasis was not altogether displeased at the action, as his 
conduct soon made manifest: for no sooner had the insurgents 
agreed to make him actually their king, than he prepared to 
march with them against Apries. That monarch, on tidings of 
these events reaching him, sent Patarbemis, one of his courtiers, 
a man of high rank, to Amasis, with orders to bring him alive 
into his presence. Patarbemis, on arriving at the place where 
Amasis was, called on him to come back with him to the king, 
whereupon Amasis broke a coarse jest, and said, " Prythee take 
that back to thy master." When the envoy, notwithstanding 
this reply, persisted in his request, exhorting Ajnasis to obey the 
summons of the king, he made answer, " that this was exactly 
what he had long been intending to do; Apries would have no 
reason to complain of him on the score of delay; he would 
shortly come himself to the king, and bring others with him." * 
Patarbemis, upon this, comprehending the intention of Amasis, 
partly from his replies, and partly from the preparations which 
he saw in progress, departed hastily, wishing to inform the king 
with all speed of what was going on. Apries, however, when 
he saw him approaching without Amasis, fell into a paroxysm of 
rage; and not giving himself time for reflection, commanded 
the nose and ears of Patarbemis to be cut off. Then the rest of 
the Egyptians, who had hitherto espoused the cause of Apries, 
when they saw a man of such note among them so shamefully 
outraged, without a moment s hesitation went over to the rebels, 
and put themselves at the disposal of Amasis. 

163. Apries, informed of this new calamity, armed his mer 
cenaries, and led them against the Egyptians: this was a body 
of Carians and lonians, 2 numbering thirty thousand men, which 
was now with him at Sals, where his palace stood a vast build 
ing, well worthy of notice. The army of Apries marched out to 
attack the host of the Egyptians, while that of Amasis went 

1 Compare the answer of Cyrus to Astyages (i. 127), which shows that 
this was a commonplace the answer supposed to be proper for a powerful 

* The Greek troops continued in the pay of the king. The state of Egypt, 
and the dethronement of Apries, are predicted in Isa. xix. 2 V and in Jer. 
xliv. 30. 

2oo The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

forth to fight the strangers ; and now both armies drew 
near the city of Momemphis, 1 and prepared for the coming 

164. The Egyptians are divided into seven distinct classes 2 
these are, the priests, the warriors, the cowherds, the swineherds, 
the tradesmen, the interpreters, and the boatmen. Their titles 
indicate their occupations. The warriors consist of Hermoty- 
bians and Calasirians, who come from different cantons, 3 the 
whole of Egypt being parcelled out into districts bearing this 

165. The following cantons furnish the Hermotybians : The 
cantons of Busiris, Sals, Chemmis, Papremis, that of the island 
called Prosopitis, 4 and half of Natho. They number, when most 
numerous, a hundred and sixty thousand. None of them ever 
practises a trade, but all are given wholly to war. 

166. The cantons of the Calasirians are different they in 
clude the following : The cantons of Thebes, Bubastis, Aphthis, 
Tanis, 5 Mendes, Sebennytus, Athribis, Pharbaethus, Thmuis, 
Onuphis, Anysis, and Myecphoris this last canton consists of 
an island which lies over against the town of Bubastis. The 
Calasirians, when at their greatest number, have amounted to 
two hundred and fifty thousand. Like the Hermotybians, they 
are forbidden to pursue any trade, and devote themselves 
entirely to warlike exercises, the son following the father s 

167. Whether the Greeks borrowed from the Egyptians their 
notions about trade, like so many others, I cannot say for certain* 
I have remarked that the Thracians, the Scyths, the Persians, 
the Lydians, and almost all other barbarians, hold the citizens 
who practise trades, and their children, in less repute than the 
rest, while they esteem as noble those who keep aloof from 
handicrafts, and especially honour such as are given wholly to 
war. These ideas prevail throughout the whole of Greece, 

1 Momemphis was on the edge of the desert, near the mouth of the 
Lycus canal. 

These classes, rather than castes, were, according to Herodotus i. 
The sacerdotal. 2. The military. 3. The herdinen. 4. Swineherds. 
5. Shopkeepers. 6. Interpreters. 7. Boatmen. 

* The number of the nomes or cantons varied at different times. Each 
nome was governed by a Nomarch, to whom was entrusted the levying 
of taxes, and various duties connected with the administration of the 

4 Of Busiris, see ch. 61. 

8 The city of Tanis is the Zoan of Scripture. [Cf. Encycl. Biblica, yoL iv, 
s.v. E. H. B.] 

CHAP. 164-169. Battle of Momemphis 201 

particularly among the Lacedaemonians. Corinth is the place 
where mechanics are least despised. 1 

168. The warrior class in Egypt had certain special privileges 
in which none of the rest of the Egyptians participated, except 
the priests. In the first place each man had twelve arura * of 
land assigned him free from tax. (The arura is a square of a 
hundred Egyptian cubits, the Egyptian cubit being of the same 
length as the Samian.) All the warriors enjoyed this privilege 
together; but there were other advantages which came to each 
in rotation, the same man never obtaining them twice. A thou 
sand Calasirians, and the same number of Hermotybians, formed 
in alternate years the body-guard of the king; and during their 
year of service these persons, besides their arurtz, received a 
daily portion of meat and drink, consisting of five pounds of 
baked bread, two pounds of beef, and four cups of wine. 

169. When Apries, at the head of his mercenaries, and 
Amasis, in command of the whole native force of the Egyptians, 
encountered one another near the city of Momemphis, an en 
gagement presently took place. The foreign troops fought 
bravely, but were overpowered by numbers, in which they fell 
very far short of their adversaries. It is said that Apries be 
lieved that there was not a god who could cast him down from 
his eminence, so firmly did he think that he had established 
himself in his kingdom. But at this time the battle went against 
him; and, his army being worsted, he fell into the enemy s 
hands, and was brought back a prisoner to Safe, where he was 
lodged in what had been his own house, but was now the palace 
of Amasis. Amasis treated him with kindness, and kept him 
in the palace for a while; but finding his conduct blamed by 
the Egyptians, who charged him with acting unjustly in pre 
serving a man who had shown himself so bitter an enemy both 
to them and him, he gave Apries over into the hands of his 
former subjects, to deal with as they chose. Then the Egyp- 

1 The situation of Corinth led so naturally to extensive trade, and thence 
to that splendour and magnificence of living by which the useful and 
ornamental arts are most encouraged, that, in spite of Dorian pride and 
exclusiveness, the mechanic s occupation came soon to be regarded with 
a good deal of favour. As early as the time of Cypselus elaborate works 
of art proceeded from the Corinthian workshops, as the golden statue of 
Jupiter at Olympia. Later, Corinth became noted for the peculiar com 
position of its bronze, which was regarded as better suited for works of 
art than any other, and which under the name of Ms Corinthiacum was 
celebrated throughout the world. 

a The arura was a little more than three- fourths of an English acre; 
and was only a land measure. 

2O2 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

tians took him and strangled him, but having so done they 
buried him in the sepulchre of his fathers. This tomb is in the 
temple of Minerva, very near the sanctuary, on the left hand as 
one enters. The Saites buried all the kings who belonged to 
their canton inside this temple; and thus it even contains the 
tomb of Amasis, as well as that of Apries and his family. The 
latter is not so close to the sanctuary as the former, but still it 
is within the temple. It stands in the court, and is a spacious 
cloister, built of stone, and adorned with pillars carved so as to 
resemble palm-trees, 1 and with other sumptuous ornaments. 
Within the cloister is a chamber with folding doors, behind 
which lies the sepulchre of the king. 

170. Here too, in this same precinct of Minerva at Sais, is the 
burial-place of one whom I think it not right to mention in such 
a connection. 2 It stands behind the temple, against the back- 
wall, which it entirely covers. There are also some large stone 
obelisks in the enclosure, and there is a lake 8 near them, adorned 
with an edging of stone. In form it is circular, and in size, as 
it seemed to me, about equal to the lake in Delos called the 
Hoop." * 

171. On this lake it is that the Egyptians represent by night 
his sufferings 6 whose name I refrain from mentioning, and this 
representation they call their Mysteries. 6 I know well the whole 

1 They are common in Egyptian temples, particularly in the Delta, 
where they are often of granite. 

* This was Osiris. 

8 This lake still remains at Sals, the modern Sa-d-Hagar. The stone 
casing, which always lined the sides of these sacred lakes (and which may 
be seen at Thebes, Hermonthes, and other places), is entirely gone; but 
the extent of the main enclosure, which included within it the lake and 
temple, is very evident; and the massive crude brick walls are standing 
to a great height. They are about seventy feet thick, and have layers 
of reeds and rushes at intervals, to serve as binders. The lake is still 
supplied by a canal from the river. 

4 The Delian lake was a famous feature of the great temple or sacred 
enclosure of Apollo, which was the chief glory of that island. 

* The Egyptians and the Syrians had each the myth of a dying God; but 
they selected a different phenomenon for its basis; the former the Nile, 
the Syrians, the aspect of nature, or, as Macrobius shows, the sun; which, 
during one part of the year manifesting its vivifying effects on the earth s 
surface, seemed to die on the approach of winter; and hence the notion 
of a God who was both mortal and immortal. In the religion of Greece 
we trace this more obscurely; but the Cretans believed that Jupiter had 
died, and even showed his tomb. This belief was perhaps borrowed from 
Egypt or from Syria; for the Greeks derided the notion of a God dying. 

6 The sufferings and death of Osiris were the great mystery of the 
Egyptian religion; and some traces of it are perceptible among other 
people of antiquity. His being the divine goodness, and the abstract 
idea of " good," his manifestation upon earth (like an Indian God), his 

CHAP. 170-17*. Reign of Amasis 203 

course of the proceedings in these ceremonies, 1 but they shall 
not pass my lips. So too, with regard to the mysteries of Ceres, 
which the Greeks term " the Thesmophoria," I know them, but 
I shall not mention them, except so far as may be done without 
impiety. The daughters of Danaus brought these rites from 
Egypt, and taught them to the Pelasgic women of the Pelo- 
ponnese. Afterwards, when the inhabitants of the peninsula 
were driven from their homes by the Dorians, the rites perished. 
Only in Arcadia, where the natives remained and were not com 
pelled to migrate, 2 their observance continued. 

172. After Apries had been put to death in the way that I 
have described above, Amasis reigned over Egypt. He belonged 
to the canton of Sals, being a native of the town called Siouptu 
At first his subjects looked down on him and held him in small 
esteem, because he bad been a mere private person, and of a 

death, and resurrection, and his office as judge of the dead in a future 
state, look like the early revelation of a future manifestation of the deity 
converted into a mythological fable. Osiris may be said rather to have 
presided over the judgment of the dead, than to have judged them; he 
gave admission, to those who were found worthy, to the abode of happiness. 
He was not the avenging deity; he did not punish, nor could he show 
mercy, or subvert the judgment pronounced. It was a simple question of 
fact. If wicked they were destined to suffer punishment. A man s 
actions were balanced in the scales against justice or truth, and if found 
wanting he was excluded from future happiness. Thus, though the 
Egyptians are said to believe the gods were capable of influencing destiny 
(Euseb. Pr. Ev. iii. 4), it is evident that Osiris (like the Greek Zeus) was 
bound by it; and the wicked were punished, riot because he rejected them, 
but because they were wicked. Each man s conscience, released from 
the sinful body, was his own judge; and self-condemnation hereafter 
followed up the yvQ>Oi and atg-xtveo veavr&v enjoined on earth. 

1 These mysteries of Osiris, Herodotus says, were introduced into Greece 
by the daughters of Danaus. The fables of antiquity had generally several 
meanings; they were either historical, physical, or religious. The less 
instructed were led to believe Osiris represented some natural pheno 
menon ; as the inundation of the Nile, which disappearing again, and losing 
its effects in the sea, was construed into the manifestation and death of the 
deity, destroyed by Typhon; and the story of his body having been carried 
to Byblus, and that of the head which went annually from Egypt to that 
place, swimming on the sea (Lucian, de De Syria) for seven days, were the 
allegory of the water of the Nile carried by the currents to the Syrian 
coast; though Pausanias (x. 12) says they lamented Osiris, " when the 
Nile began to rise," His fabulous history was also thought by the Greeks 
to be connected with the sun; but it was not so viewed in early times 
by the Egyptians; and this was rather an Asiatic notion, and an instance 
of the usual adaptation of deities to each other in different mythologies. 
Least of aD was he thought to be a man deified. The portion of the 
mysteries imparted to strangers, as to Herodotus, Plutarch, and others, 
and even to Pythagoras, was limited; and the more important secrets 
were not even revealed to all " the priests, but to those only who were th 
most approved." [See J. G. Frazer s Adonis, Attis, Osiris (1907). E. H. B.] 

1 Compare viii. 73. 

204 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

house of no great distinction; but after a time Amasis succeeded 
in reconciling them to his rule, not by severity, but by clever 
ness. Among his other splendour he had a golden foot-pan, in 
which his guests and himself were wont upon occasion to wash 
their feet. This vessel he caused to be broken in pieces, and 
made of the gold an image of one of the gods, which he set up in 
the most public place in the whole city; upon which the Egyp 
tians flocked to the image, and worshipped it with the utmost 
reverence. Amasis, finding this was so, called an assembly, 
and opened the matter to them, explaining how the image had 
been made of the foot-pan, wherein they had been wont formerly 
to wash their feet and to put all manner of filth, yet now it was 
greatly reverenced. " And truly," he went on to say, " it had 
gone with him as with the foot-pan. If he was a private person 
formerly, yet now he had come to be their king. And so he 
bade them honour and reverence him." Such was the mode in 
which he won over the Egyptians, and brought them to be 
content to do him service. 

173. The following was the general habit of his life: From 
early dawn to the time when the forum is wont to fill, 1 he 
sedulously transacted all the business that was brought before 
him; during the remainder of the day he drank and joked with 
his guests, passing the time in witty and, sometimes, scarce 
seemly conversation. It grieved his friends that he should thus 
demean himself, and accordingly some of them chid him on the 
subject, saying to him, " Oh ! king, thou dost but ill guard thy 
royal dignity whilst thou allowest thyself in such levities. Thou 
shouldest sit in state upon a stately throne, and busy thyself 
with affairs the whole day long. So would the Egyptians feel 
that a great man rules them, and thou wouldst be better spoken 
of. But now thou conductest thyself in no kingly fashion." 
Amasis answered them thus: " Bowmen bend their bows when 
they wish to shoot; unbrace them when the shooting is over. 
Were they kept always strung they would break, and fail the 
archer in time of need. So it is with men. If they give them 
selves constantly to serious work, and never indulge awhile in 
pastime or sport, they lose their senses, and become mad or 

1 In early times the Greeks divided the day into three parts. The 
division, according to Dio Chrysostomus, was irpwt, sunrise, or early morn; 
irepl Tr\7)6ovcra,i dyopdv, market time or forenoon, the third hour; fj,ffr)ju.j3pla, 
midday; SelXrj, or irepl detXtjv, afternoon, or the ninth hour; and ^rW/>a, 
evening, or sunset. These are very like the Arabic divisions at the present 
time, for each of which they have a stated number of prayers. 

CHAF. 173-175. Amasis adorns Sais 205 

moody. Knowing this, I divide my life between pastime and 
business." Thus he answered his friends. 

174. It is said that Amasis, even while he was a private man, 
had the same tastes for drinking and jesting, and was averse to 
engaging in any serious employment. He lived in constant 
feasts and revelries, and whenever his means failed him, he 
roamed about and robbed people. On such occasions the 
persons from whom he had stolen would bring him, if he denied 
the charge, before the nearest oracle; sometimes the oracle 
would pronounce him guilty of the theft, at other times it would 
acquit him. When afterwards he came to be king, he neglected 
the temples of such gods as had declared that he was not a thief, 
and neither contributed to their adornment, nor frequented 
them for sacrifice ; since he regarded them as utterly worthless, 
and their oracles as wholly false : but the gods who had detected 
his guilt he considered to be true gods whose oracles did not 
deceive, and these he honoured exceedingly. 

175. First of all, therefore, he built the gateway l of the 
temple of Minerva at Sals, which is an astonishing work, far 
surpassing all other buildings of the same kind both in extent 
and height, and built with stones of rare size and excellency. 
In the next place, he presented to the temple a number of large 
colossal statues, and several prodigious andro-sphinxes, 2 besides 
certain stones for the repairs, of a most extraordinary size. 
Some of these he got from the quarries over against Memphis, 
but the largest were brought from Elephantin6, 3 which is twenty 
days voyage from Sais. Of all these wonderful masses that 
which I most admire is a chamber made of a single stone, which 
was quarried at Elephantine. It took three years to convey this 
block from the quarry to Sais; and in the conveyance were em 
ployed no fewer than two thousand labourers, who were all from 
the class of boatmen. The length of this chamber on the outside 
is twenty-one cubits, its breadth fourteen cubits, and its height 
eight. The measurements inside are the following: The 
length, eighteen cubits and five-sixths; the breadth, twelve 
cubits; and the height, five. It lies near the entrance of the 
temple, where it was left in consequence of the following cir 
cumstance : It happened that the architect, just as the stone 

1 Not a " portico," but the lofty towers of the Area, or Court of Entrance. 
1 The usual sphinxes of the dromos, or avenue, leading to the entrance of 
the large temples. 

8 These were granite blocks. 

206 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

had reached the spot where it now stands, heaved a sigh, con 
sidering the length of time that the removal had taken, and 
feeling wearied with the heavy toil. The sigh was heard by 
Amasis, who, regarding it as an omen, would not allow the 
chamber to be moved forward any further. Some, however, say 
that one of the workmen engaged at the levers was crushed and 
killed by the mass, and that this was the reason of its being left 
where it now stands. 

176. To the other temples of much note Amasis also made 
magnificent offerings at Memphis, for instance, he gave the 
recumbent colossus l in front of the temple of Vulcan, which 
is seventy-five feet long. Two other colossal statues stand on 
the same base, each twenty feet high, carved in the stone of 
Ethiopia, one on either side of the temple. There is also a stone 
colossus of the same size at Sals, recumbent like that at Memphis. 
Amasis finally built the temple of Isis at Memphis, a vast 
structure, well worth seeing. 

177. It is said that the reign of Amasis was the most pros 
perous time that Egypt ever saw, 2 the river was more liberal 
to the land, and the land brought forth more abundantly for the 
service of man than had ever been known before; while the 
number of inhabited cities was not less than twenty thousand. 
It was this king Amasis who established the law that every 
Egyptian should appear once a year before the governor of his 
canton, 3 and show his means of living; or, failing to do so, and 
to prove that he got an honest livelihood, should be put to 
death. Solon the Athenian borrowed this law from the Egyp 
tians, and imposed it on his countrymen, who have observed it 
ever since. It is indeed an excellent custom. 

178. Amasis was partial to the Greeks, 4 and, among other 
favours which he granted them, gave to such as liked to settle 
in Egypt the city of Naucratis 5 for their residence. To those 

1 It was an unusual position for an Egyptian statue; and this, as well 
as the other at Memphis, and the monolith, may have been left on the 
ground, in consequence of the troubles which came upon Egypt at the time; 
and which the Egyptians concealed from Herodotus. 

This can only relate to the internal state of the country; and what 
Herodotus afterwards says shows this was his meaning. 

8 Each nome, or canton, was governed by a nomarch. 

4 Amasis had reason to be hostile to the Greeks, who had assisted Apries, 
but, perceiving the value of their aid, he became friendly to them, and 
granted them many privileges, which had the effect of inducing many to 
settle in Egypt, and afterwards led them to assist the Egyptians in freeing 
their country from the Persians. 

* This was " formerly the only commercial entrepot for Greek mer 
chandise, and was established for the first time by Amasis. 

CHAP. 176-181. The Hellenium 207 

who only wished to trade upon the coast, and did not want to 
fix their abode in the country, he granted certain lands where 
they might set up altars and erect temples to the gods. Of these 
temples the grandest and most famous, which is also the most 
frequented, is that called " the Hellenium." It was built con 
jointly by the lonians, Dorians, and ^Eolians, the following 
cities taking part in the work : the Ionian states of Chios, Teos, 
Phocaea, and Clazomenae; Rhodes, Cnidus, Halicarnassus, and 
Phaselis l of the Dorians ; and Mytilene of the ^Eolians. These 
are the states to whom the temple belongs, and they have the 
right of appointing the governors of the factory ; the other cities 
which claim a share in the building, claim what in no sense 
belongs to them. Three nations, however, consecrated for them 
selves separate temples the Eginetans one to Jupiter, the 
Samians to Juno, and the Milesians to Apollo. 2 

179. In ancient times there was no factory but Naucratis in 
the whole of Egypt; and if a person entered one of the other 
mouths of the Nile, he was obliged to swear that he had not 
eome there of his own free will. Having so done, he was bound 
to sail in his ship to the Canobic mouth, or, were that impossible 
owing to contrary winds, he must take his wares by boat all 
round the Delta, and so bring them to Naucratis, which had an 
exclusive privilege. 

1 80. It happened in the reign of Amasis that the temple of 
Delphi had been accidentally burnt, 8 and the Amphictyons 4 
had contracted to have it rebuilt for three hundred talents, of 
which sum one-fourth was to be furnished by the Delphians. 
Under these circumstances the Delphians went from city to city 
begging contributions, and among their other wanderings came 
to Egypt and asked for help. From few other places did they 
obtain so much Amasis gave them a thousand talents of alum, 5 
and the Greek settlers twenty minse. 6 

181. A league was concluded by Amasis with the Cyrenaeans, 
by which Gyrene* and Egypt became close friends and allies. He 
likewise took a wife from that city, either as a sign of his friendly 

1 Phaselis lay on the east coast of Lycia, directly at the base of Mount 
Solyma (Takhlalu). 

That is, to the gods specially worshipped in their respective countries. 
1 The temple at Delphi was burnt in the year B.C. 548, consequently in 
the 2ist year of Amasis. 
4 See Book vii. ch. 200. 
That of Egypt was celebrated. 

1 Twenty minae would be somewhat more than 80 of our money. The 
entire sum which the Delphians had to collect exceeded 18,000. 

1405 H 

208 The History of Herodotus BOOK n. 

feeling, or because he had a fancy to marry a Greek woman. 
However this may be, certain it is that he espoused a lady 
of Cyrene, by name Ladice, daughter, some say, of Battus or 
Arcesilaiis, the king others, of Critobulus, one of the chief 
citizens. When the time came to complete the contract, Amasis 
was struck with weakness. Astonished hereat for he was not 
wont to be so afflicted the king thus addressed his bride: 
" Woman, thou hast certainly bewitched me now therefore be 
sure thou shalt perish more miserably than ever woman perished 
yet." Ladic6 protested her innocence, but in vain; Amasis was 
not softened. Hereupon she made a vow internally, that if he 
recovered within the day (for no longer time was allowed her), 
she would present a statue to the temple of Venus at Cyrene. 
Immediately she obtained her wish, and the king s weakness 
disappeared. Amasis loved her greatly ever after, and Ladic6 
performed her vow. The statue which she caused to be made, 
and sent to Cyren6, continued there to my day, standing with 
its face looking outwards from the city. Ladice herself, when 
Cambyses conquered Egypt, suffered no wrong; for Cambyses, 
on learning of her who she was, sent her back unharmed to her 

182. Besides the marks of favour already mentioned, Amasis 
also enriched with offerings many of the Greek temples. He 
sent to Gyrene" a statue of Minerva covered with plates of gold, 1 
and a painted likeness 2 of himself. To the Minerva of Lindus 
he gave two statues in stone, and a linen corslet 3 well worth 
inspection. To the Samian Juno he presented two statues of 
himself, made in wood, 4 which stood in the great temple to my 
day, behind the doors. Samos was honoured with these gifts on 
account of the bond of friendship subsisting between Amasis and 
Polycrates, the son of ^Eaces : 5 Lindus, for no such reason, but 
because of the tradition that the daughters of Danaus * touched 

1 Statues of this kind were not uncommon (infra, vi. 118). The most 
famous was that of Minerva [Athena] at Delphi, which the Athenians 
dedicated from the spoils of their victory at the Eurymedon. 

8 The Egyptians had actual portraits of their kings at a very remote 
period; and those in the sculptures were real likenesses. There are some 
portraits painted on wood and affixed to mummy cases, but these are of 
Greek and Roman time, and an innovation not Egyptian. 

8 It has been conjectured that the " tree-wool " of Herodotus was silk; 
but cotton is commonly used for embroidery even at the present day. 

4 Pausanias (ii. 19) says " all ancient statues were of wood, especially 
hose of the Egyptians." 

* Vide infra, iii. 39-43. 

The flight of Danaus from Egypt to Greece is not only mentioned by 

CHAP, 182. Amasis reduces Cyprus 209 

there in their flight from the sons of ^Egyptus, and built the 
temple of Minerva. Such were the offerings of Amasis. He 
likewise took Cyprus, which no man had ever done before, 1 and 
compelled it to pay him a tribute. 2 

Herodotus, but by Manetho and others, and was credited both by Greeks 
and Egyptians. 

1 According to Greek tradition, the conquest was effected by a certain 
Cinyras, a Syrian king, whom Homer makes contemporary with Aga 
memnon. (II. xi. 20.) His capital was Paphos. 

* Neco had made Egypt a naval power (supra, ch. 159), which she thence 
forth continued to be. 


(i.) The Pyramids. The Pyramids divide themselves into seven large 
groups, the two largest (at Gizeh) being the work of the old kings, white 
the five smaller were probably built in the Vth and Vlth dynasties. On 
being investigated, the chambers within several of these structures were 
found to be covered with hieroglyphic signs. They are among the very 
oldest literary monuments of Egypt. The pyramid texts are religious, 
and contain hymns, prayers, and magical formulae, reflecting the popular 
ideas of life after death. Most of them are in poetical language. Large 
and important finds of gems and treasure were dug up in the under 
chambers, as well as of reliefs, granite figures, and the like. 

(2.) Among recent discoveries in Egypt the Tel-el- Amarna tablets are the 
most important. These clay tablets, in cuneiform character, enable us 
to get a singularly helpful understanding not only of the civilisation of the 
period (about 1400 B.C.), but also of the political status of Egypt at the 
time. They prove the prevalence of Babylonian influence and civilising 
power in Western Asia in a hitherto unexpected fashion. Even Egyptian 
kings wrote to their Syrian subjects in Babylonian. 

(3.) The Labyrinth was probably a temple, though (so far) no architectural 
plan of the building has been obtained. 

The discovery by Dr. A. J. Evans of a huge, many-chambered building 
in Cnossus (Crete), on the traditional site of the palace of Minos, has 
suggested to him the idea that this Cretan structure was the original 
labyrinth. Its huge size and complexity caused the name to be used in 
its conventional meaning; but originally the word seems to mean " house 
of the double- axe " (labrys). 

Every excavation made proves the extraordinarily high state of civil 
isation which had been attained in ancient Egypt. 


i. THE above-mentioned Amasis was the Egyptian king against 
whom Cambyses, son of Cyrus, made his expedition; and with 
him went an army composed of the many nations under his rule, 
among them being included both Ionic and ^Eolic Greeks. The 
reason of the invasion was the following. 1 Cambyses, by the 
advice of a certain Egyptian, who was angry with Amasis for 
having torn him from his wife and children, and given him over 
to the Persians, had sent a herald to Amasis to ask his daughter 
in marriage. His adviser was a physician, whom Amasis, when 
Cyrus had requested that he would send him the most skilful of 
all the Egyptian eye-doctors, 2 singled out as the best from the 
whole number. Therefore the Egyptian bore Amasis a grudge, 
and his reason for urging Cambyses to ask the hand of the king s 
daughter was, that if he complied, it might cause him annoy 
ance ; if he refused, it might make Cambyses his enemy. When 
the message came, Amasis, who much dreaded the power of the 
Persians, was greatly perplexed whether to give his daughter or 
no; for that Cambyses did not intend to make her his wife, but 
would only receive her as his concubine, he knew for certain. 
He therefore cast the matter in his mind, and finally resolved 
what he would do. There was a daughter of the late king 
Apries, named Nitetis, 3 a tall and beautiful woman, the last 
survivor of that royal house. Amasis took this woman, and, 
decking her out with gold and costly garments, sent her to 
Persia as if she had been his own child. Some time afterwards, 
Cambyses, as he gave her an embrace, happened to call her by 
her father s name, whereupon she said to him, I see, O king, 
thou knowest not how thou hast been cheated by Amasis ; who 

1 Herodotus had already told us that the subjugation of Egypt was 
among the designs of Cyrus (i. 153). Indeed, two motives of a public 
character, each by itself enough to account for the attack, urged the Persian 
arms in this direction; viz., revenge, and the lust of conquest. Grote 
has noticed the " impulse of aggrandisement," which formed the pre 
dominant characteristic of the Persian nation at this period. 

Vide supra, ii. 84. Egyptians first, and afterwards Greeks, were the 
court physicians of the Achasmenidae. 

* This account, which Herodotus says was that of the Persians, is utterly 


CHAP. 1-4. Legend of Nitetis 21 1 

took me, and, tricking me out with gauds, sent, me to thee as his 
own daughter. But I am in truth the child of Apries, who was 
his lord and master, until he rebelled against him, together with 
the rest of the Egyptians, and put him to death/ It was this 
speech, and the cause of quarrel it disclosed, which roused the 
anger of Cambyses, son of Cyrus, and brought his arms upon 
Egypt. Such is the Persian story. 

2. The Egyptians, however, claim Cambyses as belonging to 
them, declaring that he was the son of this Nitetis. It was 
Cyrus, they say, and not Cambyses, who sent to Amasis for his 
daughter. But here they mis-state the truth. Acquainted as 
they are beyond all other men with the laws and customs of the 
Persians, they cannot but be well aware, first, that it is not the 
Persian wont to allow a bastard to reign when there is a legiti 
mate heir ; and next, that Cambyses was the son of Cassandane, 
the daughter of Pharnaspes, an Achaemenian, and not of this 
Egyptian. But the fact is, that they pervert his tor} 7 , in order 
to claim relationship with the house of Cyrus. Such is the 
truth of this matter. 

3. I have also heard another account, which I do not at all 
believe, that a Persian lady came to visit the wives of Cyrus, 
and seeing how tall and beautiful were the children of Cassan 
dane, then standing by, broke out into loud praise of them, and 
admired them exceedingly. But Cassandane, wife of Cyrus, 
answered, " Though such the children I have borne him, yet 
Cyrus slights me and gives all his regard to the new-comer from 
Egypt." Thus did she express her vexation on account of 
Nitetis: whereupon Cambyses, the eldest of her boys, exclaimed, 
" Mother, when I am a man, I will turn Egypt upside down for 
you." He was but ten years old, as the tale runs, when he said 
this, and astonished all the women, yet he never forgot it after 
wards; and on this account, they say, when he came to be a 
man, and mounted the throne, he made his expedition against 

4. There was another matter, quite distinct, which helped to 
bring about the expedition. One of the mercenaries of Amasis, 1 
a Halicarnassian, Phanes by name, a man of good judgment, and 
a brave warrior, dissatisfied for some reason or other with his 
master, deserted the service, and, taking ship, fled to Cambyses, 
wishing to get speech with him. As he was a person of no small 

1 The Carian and Ionian mercenaries mentioned repeatedly in the second 
Book (chs. 152, 154, 163, etc.). 

2 1 2 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

account among the mercenaries, and one who could give very 
exact intelligence about Egypt, Amasis, anxious to recover him, 
ordered that he should be pursued. He gave the matter in 
charge to one of the most trusty of the eunuchs, who went in 
quest of the Halicarnassian in a vessel of war. The eunuch 
caught him in Lycia, but did not contrive to bring him back to 
Egypt, for Phanes outwitted him by making his guards drunk, 
and then escaping into Persia. Now it happened that Cambyses 
was meditating his attack on Egypt, and doubting how he might 
best pass the desert, when Phanes arrived, and not only told 
him all the secrets of Amasis, but advised him also how the 
desert might be crossed. He counselled him to send an ambas 
sador to the king of the Arabs, 1 and ask him for safe-conduct 
through the region. 

5. Now the only entrance into Egypt is by this desert: the 
country from Phoenicia to the borders of the city Cadytis 2 
belongs to the people called the Palestine Syrians ; 3 from 
Cadytis, which it appears to me is a city almost as large as 
Sard is, the marts upon the coast till you reach Jenysus are the 
Arabian king s; after Jenysus the Syrians again come in, and 
extend to Lake Serbonis, near the place where Mount Casius 
juts out into the sea. At Lake Serbonis, where the tale goes 
that Typhon hid himself, Egypt begins. Now the whole tract 
between Jenysus on the one side, and Lake Serbonis and Mount 
Casius on the other, and this is no small space, being as much 
as three days journey, is a dry desert without a drop of water. 

6< I shall now mention a thing of which few of those who sail 
to Egypt are aware. Twice a year wine is brought into Egypt 
from every part of Greece, as well as from Phoenicia, in earthen 
jars ; 4 and yet in the whole country you will nowhere see, as I 
may say, a single jar. What then, every one will ask, becomes 
of the jars? This, too, I will clear up. The burgomaster of 
each town has to collect the wine-jars within his district, and to 
carry them to Memphis, where they are all filled with water by 
the Memphians, who then convey them to this desert tract of 

1 Herodotus appears to have thought that the Arabs were united under 
the government of a single king. 

*That is, Gaza. 

* Palestine Syria means properly the Syria of the Philistines," who 
were in ancient times by far the most powerful race of southern Syria (cf. 
Gen. xxi. 32-4, xxvi. r^-8; Ex. xiii. 17, etc.). 

4 Besides the quantity of wine made in Egypt, a great supply was 
annually imported from Greece, after the trade was opened with that 

CHAP. 5-9. Arabian Pledges 213 

Syria. And so it comes to pass that all the jars which enter 
Egypt year by year, and are there put up to sale, find their way 
into Syria, whither all the old jars have gone before them. 

7. This way of keeping the passage into Egypt fit for use by 
storing water there, was begun by the Persians so soon as they 
became masters of that country. As, however, at the time of 
which we speak the tract had not yet been so supplied, Cam- 
byses took the advice of his Halicarnassian guest, and sent 
messengers to the Arabian to beg a safe-conduct through the 
region. The Arabian granted his prayer, and each pledged 
faith to the other. 

8. The Arabs keep such pledges more religiously than almost 
any other people. 1 They plight faith with the forms following* 
When two men would swear a friendship, they stand on each 
side of a third : he with a sharp stone makes a cut on the inside 
of the hand of each near the middle finger, and, taking a piece 
from their dress, dips it in the blood of each, and moistens 
therewith seven stones 2 lying in the midst, calling the while 
on Bacchus and Urania. After this, the man who makes the 
pledge commends the stranger (or the citizen, if citizen he be) 
to all his friends, and they deem themselves bound to stand to 
the engagement. They have but these two gods, to wit, Bacchus 
and Urania ; 3 and they say that in their mode of cutting the 
hair, they follow Bacchus. Now their practice is to cut it in a 
ring, away from the temples. Bacchus they call in their 
language Orotal, and Urania, Alilat. 

9. When, therefore, the Arabian had pledged his faith to the 
messengers of Cambyses, he straightway contrived as follows : 
he filled a number of camels skins with water, and loading 
therewith all the live camels that he possessed, drove them into 
the desert, and awaited the coming of the army. This is the 
more likely of the two tales that are told. The other is an im 
probable story, but, as it is related, I think that I ought not to 
pass it by. There is a great river in Arabia, called the Corys, 

1 The fidelity of the Arabs to their engagements is noticed by all 
travellers. Mr. Kinglake remarks, "It is not of the Bedouins that 
travellers are afraid, for the safe-conduct granted by the Chief of the 
ruling tribe is never, I believe, violated." (Eothen.) 

1 Events were often recorded in the East by stones. Comp. the 12 stones 
placed in the bed of the Jordan, Joshua iv. 9. The number 7 had an 
important meaning (as in the Bible frequently), as well as 4. The former 
was the fortunate number. It was also a sacred number with the Persians. 

* There can be little doubt that the religion of the Arabians in the time 
of Herodotus was astral " the worship of the host of heaven." 

214 The History of Herodotus BOOK m 

which empties itself into the Erythraean sea. The Arabian 
king, they say, made a pipe of the skins of oxen and other 
beasts, reaching from this river all the way to the desert, and so 
brought the water to certain cisterns which he had had dug in 
the desert to receive it. It is a twelve days journey from the 
river to this desert tract* And the water, they say, was brought 
through three different pipes to three separate places. 

10. Psammenitus, son of Amasis, lay encamped at the mouth 
of the Nile, called the Pelusiac, awaiting Cambyses. For Cam- 
byses, when he went up against Egypt, found Amasis no longer 
in life: he had died after ruling Egypt forty and four years, 
during all which time no great misfortune had befallen him. 
When he died, his body was embalmed, and buried in the tomb 
which he had himself caused to be made in the temple. 1 After 
his son Psammenitus had mounted the throne, a strange prodigy 
occurred in Egypt: Rain fell at Egyptian Thebes, a thing 
which never happened before, and which, to the present time, 
has never happened again, as the Thebans themselves testify. 
In Upper Egypt it does not usually rain at all; but on this 
occasion, rain fell at Thebes in small drops. 

11. The Persians crossed the desert, and, pitching their camp 
close to the Egyptians, made ready for battle. Hereupon the 
mercenaries in the pay of Psammenitus, who were Greeks and 
Carians, full of anger against Phanes for having brought a foreign 
army upon Egypt, bethought themselves of a mode whereby 
they might be revenged on him. Phanes had left sons in Egypt* 
The mercenaries took these, and leading them to the camp, 
displayed them before the eyes of their father; after which they 
brought out a bowl, and, placing it in the space between the 
two hosts, they led the sons of Phanes, one by one, to the vessel, 
and slew them over it. 2 When the last was dead, water and 
wine were poured into the bowl, and all the soldiers tasted of 
the blood, and so they went to the battle. Stubborn was the 
fight which followed, and it was not till vast numbers had been 
slain upon both sides, that the Egyptians turned and fled. 

12. On the field where this battle was fought I saw a very 
wonderful thing which the natives pointed out to me. The 
bones of the slain lie scattered upon the field in two lots, those 
of the Persians in one place by themselves, as the bodies lay at 
the first those of the Egyptians in another place apart from 

1 The temple of Minerva at Sais. (Vide supra, ii. 169.) 
1 This was a mode of making an oath binding. 

CHAP. 10-14. Cambyses conquers Egypt 2 1 5 

them : If, then, you strike the Persian skulls, even with a pebble, 
they are so weak, that you break a hole in them ; but the Egyp 
tian skulls are so strong, that you may smite them with a stone 
and you will scarcely break them in. They gave me the follow 
ing reason for this difference, which seemed to me likely 
enough : The Egyptians (they said) from early childhood have 
the head shaved, and so by the action of the sun the skull 
becomes thick and hard. The same cause prevents baldness in 
Egypt, where you see fewer bald men than in any other land. 
Such, then, is the reason why the skulls of the Egyptians are so 
strong. The Persians, on the other hand, have feeble skulls, 
because they keep themselves shaded from the first, 1 wearing 
turbans upon their heads. What I have here mentioned I saw 
with my own eyes, and I observed also the like at Papremis, in 
the case of the Persians who were killed with Achaemenes, the 
son of Darius, by Inarus the Libyan. 2 

13. The Egyptians who fought in the battle, no sooner turned 
their backs upon the enemy, than they fled away in complete 
disorder to Memphis, where they shut themselves up within the 
walls. Hereupon Cambyses sent a Mytilenaean vessel, with a 
Persian herald on board, who was to sail up the Nile to Mem 
phis, and invite the Egyptians to a surrender. They, however, 
when they saw the vessel entering the town, poured forth in 
crowds from the castle, destroyed the ship, and, tearing the 
crew limb from limb, so bore them into the fortress. After this 
Memphis was besieged, and in due time surrendered. Hereon 
the Libyans who bordered upon Egypt, fearing the fate of that 
country, gave themselves up to Cambyses without a battle, 
made an agreement to pay tribute to him, and forthwith sent 
him gifts. 3 The Cyrenaeans too, and the Barcseans, having the 
same fear as the Libyans, immediately did the like. Cambyses 
received the Libyan presents very graciously, but not so the 
gifts of the Cyrenseans. They had sent no more than five 
hundred mina 4 of silver, which Cambyses, I imagine, thought 
too little. He therefore snatched the money from them, and 
with his own hands scattered it among his soldiers. 

14. Ten days after the fort had fallen, Cambyses resolved to 

1 Probably the shading by the turban is alone meant. 

1 Vide infra, vii. 7. The revolt of Inarus is fixed by Clinton to the year 
B.C. 460, the fifth year of Artaxerxes. 

"Vide infra, iv. 165. Arcesilaiis III. was king of Cyrene at this time. 

4 If Attic min*e are intended, as is probable, the value of the Cyrenaean 
contribution would be little more than 2000 of our money. 

I 405 * H 

2 1 6 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

try the spirit of Psammenitus, the Egyptian king, whose whole 
reign had been but six months. He therefore had him set in 
one of the suburbs, and many other Egyptians with him, and 
there subjected him to insult. First of all he sent his daughter 
out from the city, clothed in the garb of a slave, with a pitcher 
to draw water. Many virgins, the daughters of the chief nobles, 
accompanied her, wearing the same dress. When the damsels 
came opposite the place where their fathers sate, shedding tears 
and uttering cries of woe, the fathers, all but Psammenitus, 
wept and wailed in return, grieving to see their children in so 
sad a plight; but he, when he had looked and seen, bent his 
head towards the ground. In this way passed by the water- 
carriers. Next to them came Psammenitus son, and two thou 
sand Egyptians of the same age with him all of them having 
ropes round their necks and bridles in their mouths and they 
too passed by on their way to suffer death for the murder of the 
Mytilenaeans who were destroyed, with their vessel, in Memphis. 
For so had the royal judges given their sentence " for each 
Mytilensean ten of the noblest Egyptians must forfeit life." 
King Psammenitus saw the train pass on, and knew his son was 
being led to death, but, while the other Egyptians who sate 
around him wept and were sorely troubled, he showed no further 
sign than when he saw his daughter. And now, when they too 
were gone, it chanced that one of his former boon-companions, a 
man advanced in years, who had been stripped of all that he 
had and was a beggar, came where Psammenitus, son of Amasis, 
and the rest of the Egyptians were, asking alms from the 
soldiers. At this sight the king burst into tears, and, weeping 
out aloud, called his friend by his name, and smote himself on 
the head. Now there were some who had been set to watch 
Psammenitus and see what he would do as each train went by; 
so these persons went and told Cambyses of his behaviour. 
Then he, astonished at what was done, sent a messenger to 
Psammenitus, and questioned him, saying, " Psammenitus, thy 
lord Cambyses asketh thee why, when thou sawest thy daughter 
brought to shame, and thy son on his way to death, thou didst 
neither utter cry nor shed tear, while to a beggar, who is, 
he hears, a stranger to thy race, thou gavest those marks of 
honour." To this question Psammenitus made answer, " son 
of Cyrus, my own misfortunes were too great for tears; but the 
woe of my friend deserved them. When a man falls from 
splendour and plenty into beggary at the threshold of old age, 

:HAP. 15-16. End of Psammenitus 217 

me may well weep for him." When the messenger brought back 
:his answer, Cambyses owned it was just; Croesus, likewise, the 
Egyptians say, burst into tears for he too had come into Egypt 
with Cambyses and the Persians who were present wept* 
Even Cambyses himself was touched with pity, and he forth 
with gave an order, that the son of Psammenitus should be 
spared from the number of those appointed to die, and Psam 
menitus himself brought from the suburb into his presence. 

15. The messengers were too late to save the life of Psam 
menitus son, who had been cut in pieces the first of all; but 
they took Psammenitus himself and brought him before the 
king. Cambyses allowed him to live with him, and gave him 
no more harsh treatment; nay, could he have kept from inter 
meddling with affairs, he might have recovered Egypt, and ruled 
it as governor. For the Persian wont is to treat the sons of 
kings with honour, and even to give their fathers kingdoms to 
the children of such as revolt from them. 1 There are many 
cases from which one may collect that this is the Persian rule, 
and especially those of Pausiris and Thannyras. Thannyras was 
son of Inarus the Libyan, and was allowed to succeed his father, 
as was also Pausiris, son of Amyrtseus; yet certainly no two 
persons ever did the Persians more damage than Amyrtaeus and 
Inarus. In this case Psammenitus plotted evil, and received 
his reward accordingly. He was discovered to be stirring up 
revolt in Egypt, wherefore Cambyses, when his guilt clearly 
appeared, compelled him to drink bull s blood, 2 which presently 
caused his death. Such was the end of Psammenitus. 

1 6. After this Cambyses left Memphis, and went to Sais, 
wishing to do that which he actually did on his arrival there. 
He entered the palace of Amasis, and straightway commanded 
that the body of the king should be brought forth from the 
sepulchre. When the attendants did according to his com 
mandment, he further bade them scourge the body, and prick it 
with goads, and pluck the hair from it, 3 and heap upon it all 

1 It appears from the Jewish history that this was a general Oriental 
practice in ancient times. When Pharaoh-Necho deposed Jehoahaz, he 
made Eliakim (Jehoiakim), his brother, king over Judah (2 Kings xxiii. 
34). And when Nebuchadnezzar deposed Jehoiachin (2 Kings xxiv. 17), 
he set Mattaniah (Zedekiah), his uncle, upon the throne. 

"There seems to have been a wide-spread belief among the ancients 
that bull s blood was poisonous. 

* This is evidently a Greek statement, and not derived from the Egyptian 
priests. There was no hair to pluck out, the " head and all the body " of 
the kings and priests being shaved. The whole story may be doubted. 

2 1 8 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

manner of insults. The body, however, having been embalmed, 
resisted, and refused to come apart, do what they would to it; so 
the attendants grew weary of their work; whereupon Cambyses 
bade them take the corpse and burn it. This was truly an 
impious command to give, for the Persians hold fire to be a god, 1 
and never by any chance burn their dead. Indeed this practice 
is unlawful, both with them and with the Egyptians with them 
for the reason above mentioned, since they deem it wrong to 
give the corpse of a man to a god; and with the Egyptians, 
because they believe fire to be a live animal, which eats what 
ever it can seize, and then, glutted with the food, dies with the 
matter which it feeds upon. Now to give a man s body to be 
devoured by beasts is in no wise agreeable to their customs, and 
indeed this is the very reason why they embalm their dead; 
namely, to prevent them from being eaten in the grave by 
worms. Thus Cambyses commanded what both nations ac 
counted unlawful.* According to the Egyptians, it was not 
Amasis who was thus treated, but another of their nation who 
was of about the same height. The Persians, believing this 
man s body to be the king s, abused it in the fashion described 
above. Amasis, they say, was warned by an oracle of what 
would happen to him after his death: in order, therefore, to 
prevent the impending fate, he buried the body, which after 
wards received the blows, inside his own tomb near the entrance, 
commanding his son to bury him, when he died, in the furthest 
recess of the same sepulchre. For my own part I do not believe 
that these orders were ever given by Amasis ; the Egyptians, as 
it seems to me, falsely assert it, to save their own dignity. 

17. After this Cambyses took counsel with himself, and 
planned three expeditions. One was against the Carthaginians, 
another against the Ammonians, and a third against the long- 
lived Ethiopians, who dwelt in that part of Libya which borders 
upon the southern sea. 8 He judged it best to despatch his fleet 
against Carthage and to send some portion of his land army to 
act against the Ammonians, while his spies went into Ethiopia, 
under the pretence of carrying presents to the king, but in reality 

1 On this point see above, i. 131. 

* The Egyptians were averse to burning a body, not only because burning 
was considered the punishment of the wicked, but because it was opposed 
to all their prejudices in favour of its preservation. If they really believed 
in the return of the soul to the body, this would be an additional reason. 

Not only in this passage, but again, infra, ch. 114, they are said to 
dwell towards the south, at the furthest limits of Africa. Their country 
must have lain, therefore, beyond the Straits of Babel-mandeb. 

CHAP. 17-20. Table of the Sun 2 1 9 

to take note of all they saw, and especially to observe whether 
there was really what is called " the table of the Sun in 

18. Now the table of the Sun according to the accounts given 
of it may be thus described: It is a meadow in the skirts of 
their city full of the boiled flesh l of all manner of beasts, which 
the magistrates are careful to store with meat every night, and 
where whoever likes may come and eat during the day. The 
people of the land say that the earth itself brings forth the food. 
Such is the description which is given of this table. 

19. When Cambyses had made up his mind that the spies 
should go, he forthwith sent to Elephantine* for certain of the 
Icthyophagi who were acquainted with the Ethiopian tongue; 
and, while they were being fetched, issued orders to his fleet to 
sail against Carthage. But the Phoenicians said they would not 
go, since they were bound to the Carthaginians by solemn oaths, 
and since besides it would be wicked in them to make war on 
their own children. Now when the Phoenicians refused, the rest 
of the fleet was unequal to the undertaking; and so it was that 
the Carthaginians escaped, and were not enslaved by the 
Persians. Cambyses thought not right to force the war upon 
the Phoenicians, because they had yielded themselves to the 
Persians, 2 and because upon the Phoenicians all his sea-service 
depended. The Cyprians had also joined the Persians of their 
own accord, and took part with them in the expedition against 

20. As soon as the Icthyophagi arrived from Elephantind, 
Cambyses, having told them what they were to say, forthwith 
despatched them into Ethiopia with these following gifts: to 
wit, a purple robe, 3 a gold chain for the neck, armlets, an 
alabaster box of myrrh, and a cask of palm wine. The Ethio 
pians to whom this embassy was sent, are said to be the tallest 4 

1 This was less common in early times, and as Athenaeus says, the heroes 
in Homer seldom " boil their meat, or dress it with sauces; " but in Egypt 
as well as in Ethiopia boiled meat was eaten, though the Egyptians more 
frequently roasted it, and boiled their fish. With the Arabs the custom 
of boiling meat seems to be very ancient. 

* It has been usual to ascribe the conquest of Phoenicia to Cyrus. But, 
according to Herodotus, the acquisition belongs to the reign of Cambyses. 

8 Various opinions have been held about the origin of the Tynan purple. 
The murex is generally supposed to have given it. A shell-fish (Helix 
lanthina) is found on the coast, about Tyre and Beyroot, which is remark 
able for its throwing out a quantity of purple liquid when approached, in 
order (like the sepia) to conceal itself. 

* Vide infra, iii. 114; and compare Isaiah xlv. 14, 

22O The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

and handsomest men in the whole world. In their customs 
they differ greatly from the rest of mankind, and particularly in 
the way they choose their kings; for they find out the man who 
is the tallest of all the citizens, and of strength equal to his 
height, and appoint him to rule over them. 

21. The Icthyophagi on reaching this people, delivered the 
gifts to the king of the country, and spoke as follows : " Cam- 
byses, king of the Persians, anxious to become thy ally and 
sworn friend, has sent us to hold converse with thee, and to bear 
thee the gifts thou seest, which are the things wherein he him 
self delights the most." Hereon the Ethiopian, who knew they 
came as spies, made answer: " The king of the Persians sent 
you not with these gifts because he much desired to become my 
sworn friend nor is the account which ye give of yourselves 
true, for ye are come to search out my kingdom. Also your 
king is not a just man for were he so, he had not coveted a 
land which is not his own, nor brought slavery on a people who 
never did him any wrong. Bear him this bow, and say, The 
king of the Ethiops thus advises the king of the Persians when 
the Persians can pull a bow of this strength thus easily, then let 
him come with an army of superior strength against the long- 
lived Ethiopians till then, let him thank the gods that they 
have not put it into the heart of the sons of the Ethiops to 
covet countries which do not belong to them. 

22. So speaking, he unstrung the bow, and gave it into the 
hands of the messengers. Then, taking the purple robe, he 
asked them what it was, and how it had been made. They 
answered truly, telling him concerning the purple, and the art 
of the dyer whereat he observed, " that the men were deceitful, 
and their garments also." Next he took the neck-chain and 
the armlets, and asked about them. So the Icthyophagi ex 
plained their use as ornaments. Then the king laughed, and 
fancying they were fetters, said, " the Ethiopians had much 
stronger ones." Thirdly, he inquired about the myrrh, and 
when they told him how it was made and rubbed upon the 
limbs, he said the same as he had said about the robe. Last of 
all he came to the wine, and having learnt their way of making 
it, he drank a draught, which greatly delighted him; whereupon 
he asked what the Persian king was wont to eat, and to what 
age the longest-lived of the Persians had been known to attain. 
They told him that the king ate bread, and described the nature 
of wheat adding that eighty years was the longest term of 

:HAP. 21-25. Age of the Ethiopians 221 

nan s life among the Persians. Hereat he remarked, It did 
lot surprise him, if they fed on dirt, that they died so soon; 
ndeed he was sure they never would have lived so long as 
eighty years, except for the refreshment they got from that 
Irink (meaning the wine), wherein he confessed the Persians 
jurpassed the Ethiopians." 

23. The Icthyophagi then in their turn questioned the king 
:oncerning the term of life, and diet of his people, and were told 
that most of them lived to be a hundred and twenty years old, 
while some even went beyond that age they ate boiled flesh, 
and had for their drink nothing but milk. When the Icthyo 
phagi showed wonder at the number of the years, he led them to 
a fountain, wherein when they had washed, they found their 
flesh all glossy and sleek, as if they had bathed in oil and a 
scent came from the spring like that of violets. The water was 
so weak, they said, that nothing would float in it, neither wood, 
nor any lighter substance, but all went to the bottom. If the 
account of this fountain be true, it would be their constant use 
of the water from it which makes them so long-lived. When 
they quitted the fountain the king led them to a prison, where 
the prisoners were all of them bound with fetters of gold. 
Among these Ethiopians copper is of all metals the most scarce 
and valuable. After they had seen the prison, they were like 
wise shown what is called " the table of the Sun." 

24. Also, last of all, they were allowed to behold the coffins of 
the Ethiopians, which are made (according to report) of crystal, 
after the following fashion: When the dead body has been 
dried, either in the Egyptian, or in some other manner, they 
cover the whole with gypsum, and adorn it with painting until it 
is as like the living man as possible. Then they place the body 
in a crystal pillar which has been hollowed out to receive it, 
crystal being dug up in great abundance in their country, and 
of a kind very easy to work. You may see the corpse through 
the pillar within which it lies; and it neither gives out any un 
pleasant odour, nor is it in any respect unseemly; yet there 
is no part that is not as plainly visible as if the body was 
bare. The next of kin keep the crystal pillar in their houses 
for a full year from the time of the death, and give it the first 
fruits continually, and honour it with sacrifice. After the 
year is out they bear the pillar forth, and set it up near the 

25. When the spies had now seen everything, they returned 

222 The History of Herodotus BOOK m. 

back to Egypt, and made report to Cambyses, who was stirred 
to anger by their words. Forthwith he set out on his march 
against the Ethiopians without having made any provision for 
the sustenance of his army, or reflected that he was about to 
wage war in the uttermost parts of the earth. Like a senseless 
madman as he was, no sooner did he receive the report of the 
Icthyophagi than he began his march, bidding the Greeks who 
were with his army remain where they were, and taking only 
his land force with him. At Thebes, which he passed through 
on his way, he detached from his main body some fifty thousand 
men, and sent them against the Ammonians with orders to carry 
the people into captivity, and burn the oracle of Jupiter. Mean 
while he himself went on with the rest of his forces against the 
Ethiopians. Before, however, he had accomplished one-fifth 
part of the distance, all that the army had in the way of provi 
sions failed; whereupon the men began to eat the sumpter 
beasts, which shortly failed also. If then, at this time, Cam 
byses, seeing what was happening, had confessed himself in the 
wrong, and led his army back, he would have done the wisest 
thing that he could after the mistake made at the outset; but as 
it was, he took no manner of heed, but continued to march for 
wards. So long as the earth gave them anything, the soldiers 
sustained life by eating the grass and herbs; but when they 
came to the bare sand, a portion of them were guilty of a horrid 
deed: by tens they cast lots for a man, who was slain to be the 
food of the others. When Cambyses heard of these doings, 
alarmed at such cannibalism, he gave up his attack on Ethiopia, 
and retreating by the way he had come, reached Thebes, after 
he had lost vast numbers of his soldiers. From Thebes he 
marched down to Memphis, where he dismissed the Greeks, 
allowing them to sail home. And so ended the expedition 
against Ethiopia. 1 

26. The men sent to attack the Ammonians, started from 
Thebes, having guides with them, and may be clearly traced as 
far as the city Oasis, 2 which is inhabited by Samians, said to be 
of the tribe ^Eschrionia. The place is distant from Thebes 

1 The communication between Egypt and Ethiopia was such as to render 
the expedition easy. Its chief object would be the conquest of Meroe. 

* The city Oasis is taken, with much reason, for the modern El Khargeh, 
the chief town of what is called the great Oasis. This is distant, by one 
road 42, by another 52 hours (6 and j\ days journey respectively), from 
ancient Thebes. The Egyptians in the time of Herodotus may have given 
the name Oasis to the city, as well as to the tract surrounding it. 

CHAP. 26-28. Appearance of Apis 223 

seven days journey across the sand, and is called in our tongue 
" the Island of the Blessed." Thus far the army is known to 
have made its way; but thenceforth nothing is to be heard of 
them, except what the Ammonians, and those who get their 
knowledge from them, report. It is certain they neither reached 
the Ammonians, nor even came back to Egypt. Further than 
this, the Ammonians relate as follows: That the Persians set 
forth from Oasis across the sand, and had reached about half 
way between that place and themselves, when, as they were at 
their midday meal, a wind arose from the south, strong and 
deadly, bringing with it vast columns of whirling sand, which 
entirely covered up the troops, and caused them wholly to dis 
appear. Thus, according to the Ammonians, did it fare with 
this army. 

27. About the time when Cambyses arrived at Memphis, Apis 
appeared to the Egyptians. Now Apis is the god whom the 
Greeks call Epaphus. 1 As soon as he appeared, straightway all 
the Egyptians arrayed themselves in their gayest garments, and 
fell to feasting and jollity: which when Cambyses saw, making 
sure that these rejoicings were on account of his own ill success, 
he called before him the officers who had charge of Memphis, 
and demanded of them, " Why, when he was in Memphis 
before, the Egyptians had done nothing of this kind, but waited 
until now, when he had returned with the loss of so many of his 
troops ? J The officers made answer, " That one of their gods 
had appeared to them, a god who at long intervals of time had 
been accustomed to show himself in Egypt and that always on 
his appearance the whole of Egypt feasted and kept jubilee." 
When Cambyses heard this, he told them that they lied, and as 
liars he condemned them all to suffer death. 

28. When they were dead, he called the priests to his presence, 
and questioning them received the same answer; whereupon he 
observed, That he would soon know whether a tame god had 
really come to dwell in Egypt " and straightway, without 
another word, he bade them bring Apis to him. So they went 
out from his presence to fetch the god. Now this Apis, or 
Epaphus, is the calf of a cow which is never afterwards able to 
bear young. The Egyptians say that fire comes down from 
heaven upon the cow, which thereupon conceives Apis. The 
calf which is so called has the following marks: He is black, 
with a square spot of white upon his forehead, and on his back 

1 Vide supra, ii, 153. 

224 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

the figure of an eagle; the hairs in his tail are double, and there 
is a beetle upon his tongue. 1 

29. When the priests returned bringing Apis with them, Cam 
byses, like the harebrained person that he was, drew his dagger, 
and aimed at the belly of the animal, but missed his mark, and 
stabbed him in the thigh. Then he laughed, and said thus to 
the priests : " Oh ! blockheads, and think ye that gods become 
like this, of flesh and blood, and sensible to steel? A fit god 
indeed for Egyptians, such an one ! But it shall cost you dear 
that you have made me your laughing-stock." When he had 
so spoken, he ordered those, whose business it was, 2 to scourge 
the priests, and if they found any of the Egyptians keeping 
festival to put them to death. Thus was the feast stopped 
throughout the land of Egypt, and the priests suffered punish 
ment. Apis, wounded in the thigh, lay some time pining in the 
temple ; at last he died of his wound, and the priests buried him 
secretly without the knowledge of Cambyses. 

30. And now Cambyses, who even before had not been quite 
in his right mind, was forthwith, as the Egyptians say, smitten 
with madness 3 for this crime. The first of his outrages was the 
slaying of Smerdis, his full brother, 4 whom he had sent back 
to Persia from Egypt out of envy, because he drew the bow 
brought from the Ethiopians by the Icthyophagi (which none 
of the other Persians were able to bend) the distance of two 
fingers breadth. 5 When Smerdis was departed into Persia, 
Cambyses had a vision in his sleep he thought a messenger 
from Persia came to him with tidings that Smerdis sat upon the 

1 Apis was supposed to be the image of the soul of Osiris, and he was 
the sacred emblem of that God; but he is sometimes figured as a man 
with a bull s head. 

* Like the Turks, and other orientals, the Persians had certain persons 
whose duty it was to inflict the bastinado and other punishments. The 
conduct of the Egyptians to their enemies contrasts favourably with that 
of the Eastern people of antiquity; for they only cut off the hands of the 
dead, and laid them in " heaps " before the king (cp. i Kings x. 8, and i 
Sam. xviii. 27), as returns of the enemy s killed; and if their captives were 
obliged to work, this was only the condition on which life was preserved in 
early times; and we see no systematic tortures inflicted, and no cruelties 
beyond accidental harsh treatment by some ignorant soldier, not unknown 
in the wars of Christian Europe. 

8 The madness of Cambyses has been generally accepted by our writers. 
But, as Heeren long ago observed, " we ought to be particularly on our 
guard against the evil that is related of Cambyses, inasmuch as our informa 
tion is derived entirely from his enemies, the Egyptian priests." 

*. In the original, " both of the same father and of the same mother.* 

1 This is contradicted by the Inscription, which records that Smerdis 
was put to death before Cambyses started for Egypt. 

CHAP. 29-31. Cambyses Kills His Sister 225 

royal throne, and with his head touched the heavens. Fearing 
therefore for himself, and thinking it likely that his brother 
would kill him, and rule in his stead, Cambyses sent into Persia 
Prexaspes, whom he trusted beyond all the other Persians, 
bidding him put Smerdis to death. So this Prexaspes went 
up to Susa 1 and slew Smerdis. Some say he killed him as 
they hunted together, others, that he took him down to the 
Erythraean Sea, and there drowned him. 2 

31. This, it is said, was the first outrage which Cambyses 
committed. The second was the slaying of his sister, who had 
accompanied him into Egypt, and lived with him as his wife, 
though she was his full sister, 3 the daughter both of his father 
and his mother. The way wherein he had made her his wife 
was the following: It was not the custom of the Persians, 
before his time, to marry their sisters but Cambyses, happen 
ing to fall in love with one of his, and wishing to take her to 
wife, as he knew that it was an uncommon thing, called together 
the royal judges, and put it to them, " whether there was any 
law which allowed a brother, if he wished, to marry his sister ? 
Now the royal judges are certain picked men among the Persians, 
who hold their office for life, or until they are found guilty of 
some misconduct. By them justice is administered in Persia, 
and they are the interpreters of the old laws, all disputes being 
referred to their decision. When Cambyses, therefore, put his 
question to these judges, they gave him an answer which was at 
once true and safe " they did not find any law," they said, 
" allowing a brother to take his sister to wife, but they found a 
law, that the king of the Persians might do whatever he pleased." 
And so they neither warped the law through fear of Cambyses, 
nor ruined themselves by over stiffly maintaining the law; but 
they brought another quite distinct law to the king s help, 
which allowed him to have his wish. 4 Cambyses, therefore, 

1 From this passage, as well as from several others (chs. 65, 70, etc.), it 
would appear that Susa had become the chief residence of the Persian 
court as early as the time of Cambyses, 

1 The Inscription expressly confirms the fact of the putting to death of 
Smerdis by his brother, and also states that the death was not generally 

* The Egyptians were permitted to marry their sisters by the same father 
and mother. Both were forbidden by the Levitical law; but in Patriarchal 
times a man was permitted to marry a sister, the daughter of his father only 
(Gen. xx. 12). The Egyptian custom is one of those pointed at in Levit. 
xviii. 3. 

* It is scarcely necessary to point out the agreement between the view of 
Persian law here disclosed, and that furnished by Dan. ch. vi. " The law 
of the Medes and Persians alters not." 

226 The History of Herodotus BOOK m, 

married the object of his love, 1 and no long time afterwards he 
took to wife another sister. It was the younger of these who 
went with him into Egypt, and there suffered death at his hands. 

32. Concerning the manner of her death, as concerning that 
of Smerdis, 2 two different accounts are given. The story which 
the Greeks tell, is, that Cambyses had set a young dog to fight 
the cub of a lioness his wife looking on at the time. Now the 
dog was getting the worse, when a pup of the same litter broke 
his chain, and came to his brother s aid then the two dogs 
together fought the lion, and conquered him. The thing 
greatly pleased Cambyses, but his sister who was sitting by 
shed tears. When Cambyses saw this, he asked her why she 
wept : whereon she told him, that seeing the young dog come to 
his brother s aid made her think of Smerdis, whom there was 
none to help. For this speech, the Greeks say, Cambyses put 
her to death. But the Egyptians tell the story thus: The two 
were sitting at table, when the sister took a lettuce, and strip 
ping the leaves off, asked her brother when he thought the 
lettuce looked the prettiest when it had all its leaves on, or 
now that it was stripped ? He answered, " When the leaves 
were on." " But thou," she rejoined, hast done as I did to 
the lettuce, and made bare the house of Cyrus." Then Cam 
byses was wroth, and sprang fiercely upon her, though she was 
with child at the time. And so it came to pass that she mis 
carried and died. 

33. Thus mad was Cambyses upon his own kindred, and this 
either from his usage of Apis, or from some other among the 
many causes from which calamities are wont to arise. They 
say that from his birth he was afflicted with a dreadful disease, 
the disorder which some call " the sacred sickness." 3 It would 
be by no means strange, therefore, if his mind were affected in 
some degree, seeing that his body laboured under so sore a 

34. He was mad also upon others besides his kindred; among 
the rest, upon Prexaspes, the man whom he esteemed beyond 
all the rest of the Persians, who carried his messages, and whose 

1 This was Atossa, the mother of Xerxes (vide infra, iii. 88), who was 
the wife successively of Cambyses, the Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius 

* Vide supra, ch. 30, sub fin. 

* That the disease known under this name was epilepsy appears from the 
book of Hippocrates, " On the Sacred Sickness." The Italians still caH 
it "mal benedetto." Its sudden and terrible character caused it to be 
regarded as a divine visitation. 

CHAP. 32-35. Cambyses Cruelty 227 

son held the office an honour of no small account in Persia 
of his cupbearer. Him Cambyses is said to have once ad 
dressed as follows: " What sort of man, Prexaspes, do the 
Persians think me? What do they say of me? Prexaspes 
answered, " Oh 1 sire, they praise thee greatly in all things but 
one they say thou art too much given to love of wine." 1 
Such Prexaspes told him was the judgment of the Persians; 
whereupon Cambyses, full of rage, made answer, What? they 
say now that I drink too much wine, and so have lost my senses, 
and am gone out of my mindl Then their former speeches 
about me were untrue." For once, when the Persians were 
sitting with him, and Croesus was by, he had asked them, 
" What sort of man they thought him compared to his father 
Cyrus? Hereon they had answered, " That he surpassed his 
father, for he was lord of all that his father ^ ever ruled, and 
further had made himself master of Egypt, and the sea." Then 
Croesus, who was standing near, and misliked the comparison, 
spoke thus to Cambyses: " In my judgment, O son of Cyrus, 
thou art not equal to thy father, for thou hast not yet left 
behind thee such a son as he." Cambyses was delighted when 
he heard this reply, and praised the judgment of Croesus. 

35. Recollecting these answers, Cambyses spoke fiercely to 
Prexaspes, saying, * Judge now thyself, Prexaspes, whether the 
Persians tell the truth, or whether it is not they who are mad 
for speaking as they do. Look there now at thy son standing 
in the vestibule if I shoot and hit him right in the middle of 
the heart, it will be plain the Persians have no grounds for what 
they say : if I miss him, then I allow that the Persians are right, 
and that I am out of my mind." So speaking he drew his bow 
to the full, and struck the boy, who straightway fell down dead. 
Then Cambyses ordered the body to be opened, and the wound 
examined; and when the arrow was found to have entered the 
heart, the king was quite overjoyed, and said to the father with 
a laugh, " Now thou seest plainly, Prexaspes, that it is not I who 
am mad, but the Persians who have lost their senses. I pray 
thee tell me, sawest thou ever mortal man send an arrow with a 
better aim ? Prexaspes, seeing that the king was not in his 
right mind, and fearing for himself, replied, " Ohl my lord, I do 
not think that God himself could shoot so dexterously." Such 
was the outrage which Cambyses committed at this time: at 

1 The drinking propensities of the Persians generally have been akeady 
noticed by Herodotus (i. 133). 

228 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

another, he took twelve of the noblest Persians, and, without 
bringing any charge worthy of death against them, buried them 
all up to the neck. 

36. Hereupon Croesus the Lydian thought it right to admonish 
Cambyses, which he did in these words following : " Oh 1 king, 
allow not thyself to give way entirely to thy youth, and the 
heat of thy temper, but check and control thyself. It is well to 
look to consequences, and in forethought is true wisdom. Thou 
layest hold of men, who are thy fellow-citizens, and, without 
cause of complaint, slayest them thou even puttest children to 
death bethink thee now, if thou shalt often do things like 
these, will not the Persians rise in revolt against thee? It is 
by thy father s wish that I offer thee advice; he charged me 
strictly to give thee such counsel as I might see to be most for 
thy good." In thus advising Cambyses, Croesus meant nothing 
but what was friendly. But Cambyses answered him, " Dost 
thou presume to offer me advice ? Right well thou ruledst thy 
own country when thou wert a king, and right sage advice thou 
gavest my father Cyrus, bidding him cross the Araxes and fight 
the Massagetae in their own land, when they were willing to 
have passed over into ours. By thy misdirection of thine own 
affairs thou broughtest ruin upon thyself, and by thy bad 
counsel, which he followed, thou broughtest ruin upon Cyrus, 
my father. But thou shalt not escape punishment now, for I 
have long been seeking to find some occasion against thee." As 
he thus spoke, Cambyses took up his bow to shoot at Croesus; 
but Croesus ran hastily out, and escaped. So when Cambyses 
found that he could not kill him with his bow, he bade his 
servants seize him, and put him to death. The servants, how 
ever, who knew their master s humour, thought it best to hide 
Croesus; that so, if Cambyses relented, and asked for him, they 
might bring him out, and get a reward for having saved his life 
if, on the other hand, he did not relent, or regret the loss, they 
might then despatch him. Not long afterwards, Cambyses did 
in fact regret the loss of Croesus, and the servants, perceiving it, 
let him know that he was still alive. " I am glad," said he, 
" that Croesus lives, but as for you who saved him, ye shall not 
escape my vengeance, but shall all of you be put to death." 
And he did even as he had said. 

37. Many other wild outrages of this sort did Cambyses 
commit, both upon the Persians and the allies, while he still 
stayed at Memphis; among the rest he opened the ancient 

CHAP. 30-38. Cambyses Insane 229 

sepulchres, and examined the bodies that were buried in them. 
He likewise went into the temple of Vulcan, and made great 
sport of the image. For the image of Vulcan l is very like the 
Pataeci 2 of the Phoenicians, wherewith they ornament the prows 
of their ships of war. If persons have not seen these, I will 
explain in a different way it is a figure resembling that of a 
pigmy. He went also into the temple of the Cabin, 3 which it is 
unlawful for any one to enter except the priests, and not only 
made sport of the images, but even burnt them. They are made 
like the statue of Vulcan, who is said to have been their father* 
38. Thus it appears certain to me, by a great variety of 
proofs, that Cambyses was raving mad ; he would not else have 
set himself to make a mock of holy rites and long-established 
usages. For if one were to offer men to choose out of all the 
customs in the world such as seemed to them the best, they 
would examine the whole number, and end by preferring their 
own ; 4 so convinced are they that their own usages far surpass 
those of all others. Unless, therefore, a man was mad, it is not 
likely that he would make sport of such matters. That people 
have this feeling about their laws may be seen by very many 
proofs: among others, by the following. Darius, after he had 
got the kingdom, called into his presence certain Greeks who 
were at hand, and asked " What he should pay them to eat 
the bodies of their fathers when they died ? To which they 
answered, that there was no sum that would tempt them to do 
such a thing. He then sent for certain Indians, of the race 
called Callatians, men who eat their fathers, 5 and asked them, 
while the Greeks stood by, and knew by the help of an inter 
preter all that was said " What he should give them to burn 
the bodies of their fathers at their decease? The Indians 
exclaimed aloud, and bade him forbear such language. Such is 

1 The deformed figure of the Pthah of Memphis doubtless gave rise to 
the fable of the lameness of the Greek Hephaestus or Vulcan. 

They were dwarf figures of gods, apparently of any gods, placed, 
according to Herodotus, at the prow, according to Hesychius and Suidas, 
at the poop of a galley. They were probably intended to protect the ship 
from harm. 

8 The Cabiri were Pelasgic gods. [The word is connected with the 
Semitic tf <?6ir=great. E. H. B.] 

4 This just remark of Herodotus is one of many tending to show how 
unprejudiced and sensible his opinions were; and we may readily absolve 
him from the folly of believing many of the strange stories he relates, 
against which indeed he guards himself by saying he merely reports what 
he hears without giving credit to all himself, or expecting others to do so. 

* Vide infra, iii. 99, and compare the custom of the Issedonians, iv. 26, 

230 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

men s wont herein; and Pindar was right, in my judgment, 
when he said, " Law is the king o er all." 

39. While Cambyses was carrying on this war in Egypt, the 
Lacedaemonians likewise sent a force to Samos against Poly- 
crates, the son of ^Eaces, who had by insurrection made himself 
master of that island. 1 At the outset he divided the state into 
three parts, and shared the kingdom with his brothers, Pantag- 
notus and Syloson; but later, having killed the former and 
banished the latter, who was the younger of the two, he held 
the whole island. Hereupon he made a contract of friendship 
with Amasis the Egyptian king, sending him gifts, and receiving 
from him others in return. In a little while his power so greatly 
increased, that the fame of it went abroad throughout Ionia 
and the rest of Greece. Wherever he turned his arms, success 
waited on him. He had a fleet of a hundred penteconters, and 
bowmen to the number of a thousand. 2 Herewith he plundered 
all, without distinction of friend or foe; for he argued that a 
friend was better pleased if you gave him back what you had 
taken from him, than if you spared him at the first. He cap 
tured many of the islands, and several towns upon the mainland. 
Among his other doings he overcame the Lesbians in a sea-fight, 
when they came with all their forces to the help of Miletus, and 
made a number of them prisoners. These persons, laden with 
fetters, dug the moat which surrounds the castle at Samos. 3 

40. The exceeding good fortune of Polycrates did not escape 
the notice of Amasis, who was much disturbed thereat. When 
therefore his successes continued increasing, Amasis wrote him 
the following letter, and sent it to Samos. " Amasis to Poly- 
crates thus sayeth: It is a pleasure to hear of a friend and ally 
prospering, but thy exceeding prosperity does not cause me joy, 
forasmuch as I know that the gods are envious. My wish for 
myself, and for those whom I love, is, to be now successful, and 
now to meet with a check; thus passing through life amid 
alternate good and ill, rather than with perpetual good fortune. 
For never yet did I hear tell of any one succeeding in all his 
undertakings, who did not meet with calamity at last, and come 
to utter ruin. Now, therefore, give ear to my words, and meet 
thy good luck in this way: bethink thee which of all thy 
treasures thou valuest most and canst least bear to part with; 

1 See below, ch. 120. 

* These bowmen were Samians. 

* The town Samos, not the island, is of course here meant. The islands 
oi the Egean almost all derived their name from their chief city. 

CHAP. 39-43. Polycrates Ring 231 

take it, whatsoever it be, and throw it away, so that it may be 
sure never to come any more into the sight of man. Then, if thy 
good fortune be not thenceforth chequered with ill, save thyself 
from harm by again doing as I have counselled." 

41. When Polycrates read this letter, and perceived that the 
advice of Amasis was good, he considered carefully with himself 
which of the treasures that he had in store it would grieve him 
most to lose. After much thought he made up his mind that it 
was a signet-ring which he was wont to wear, an emerald set in 
gold, 1 the workmanship of Theodore, son of Telecles, a Samian. 
So he determined to throw this away; and, manning a pente- 
conter, he went on board, and bade the sailors put out into the 
open sea. When he was now a long way from the island, he 
took the ring from his finger, and, in the sight of all those who 
were on board, flung it into the deep. This done, he returned 
home, and gave vent to his sorrow. 

42. Now it happened five or six days afterwards that a fisher 
man caught a fish so large and beautiful that he thought it well 
deserved to be made a present of to the king. So he took it 
with him to the gate of the palace, and said that he wanted to 
see Polycrates. Then Polycrates allowed him to come in, and 
the fisherman gave him the fish with these words following 

Sir king, when I took this prize, I thought I would not carry 
it to market, though I am a poor man who live by my trade. 
I said to myself, it is worthy of Polycrates and his greatness; 
and so I brought it here to give it to you." The speech pleased 
the king, who thus spoke in reply: "Thou didst right well, 
friend, and I am doubly indebted, both for the gift, and for the 
speech. Come now, and sup with me." So the fisherman went 
home, esteeming it a high honour that he had been asked to sup 
with the king. Meanwhile the servants, on cutting open the 
fish, found the signet of their master in its belly. No sooner 
did they see it than they seized upon it, and, hastening to Poly- 
srates with great joy, restored it to him, and told him in what 
way it had been found. The king, who saw something providen 
tial in the matter, forthwith wrote a letter to Amasis, telling 
him all that had happened, what he had himself done, and what 
had been the upshot and despatched the letter to Egypt. 

43. When Amasis had read the letter of Polycrates, he per 
ceived that it does not belong to man to save his fellow-man 

1 The story of the fisherman and the ring has been adopted by the Arabs 
with variations. [Cf. Macculloch, The Childhood o/ Fiction, p. aoi. 
E. H. B.] 

232 The History of Herodotus BOOK m. 

from the fate which is in store for him; likewise he felt certain 
that Polycrates would end ill, as he prospered in everything, 
even finding what he had thrown away. So he sent a herald to 
Samos, and dissolved the contract of friendship. This he did, 
that when the great and heavy misfortune came, he might escape 
the grief which he would have felt if the sufferer had been his 

44. It was with this Polycrates, so fortunate in every under 
taking, that the Lacedaemonians now went to war. Certain 
Samians, the same who afterwards founded the city of Cydonia 
in Crete, 1 had earnestly intreated their help. For Polycrates, 
at the time when Cambyses, son of Cyrus, was gathering together 
an armament against Egypt, had sent to beg him not to omit 
to ask aid from Samos; whereupon Cambyses with much readi 
ness despatched a messenger to the island, and made request 
that Polycrates would give some ships to the naval force 
which he was collecting against Egypt. Polycrates straightway 
picked out from among the citizens such as he thought most 
likely to stir revolt against him, and manned with them forty 
triremes, which he sent to Cambyses, bidding him keep the men 
safe, and never allow them to return home. 

45. Now some accounts say that these Samians did not reach 
Egypt; for that when they were off Carpathus, 2 they took 
counsel together and resolved to sail no further. But others 
maintain that they did go to Egypt, and, finding themselves 
watched, deserted, and sailed back to Samos. There Polycrates 
went out against them with his fleet, and a battle was fought 
and gained by the exiles; after which they disembarked upon 
the island and engaged the land forces of Polycrates, but were 
defeated, and so sailed off to Lacedsemon. Some relate that the 
Samians from Egypt overcame Polycrates, but it seems to me 
untruly; for had the Samians been strong enough to conquer 
Polycrates by themselves, they would not have needed to call 
in the aid of the Lacedaemonians. And moreover, it is not 
likely that a king who had in his pay so large a body of foreign 
mercenaries, and maintained likewise such a force of native bow 
men, would have been worsted by an army so small as that of 
the returned Samians. As for his own subjects, to hinder them 
from betraying him and joining the exiles, Polycrates shut up 

1 Infra, ch. 59. 

* Carpathus, the modern Scarpanto, half-way between Rhodes and Crete, 
would ho dkectly in the passage from Samos to Egypt. 

CHAP. 44-48. The Corcyraean Boys 233 

their wives and children in the sheds built to shelter his ships, 
and was ready to burn sheds and all in case of need. 

46. When the banished Samians reached Sparta, they had 
audience of the magistrates, before whom they made a long 
speech, as was natural with persons greatly in want of aid* 
Accordingly at this first sitting the Spartans answered them, 
that they had forgotten the first half of their speech, and could 
make nothing of the remainder. Afterwards the Samians had 
another audience, whereat they simply said, showing a bag 
which they had brought with them, " The bag wants flour." 
The Spartans answered that they did not need to have said " the 
bag; " however, they resolved to give them aid* 

47. Then the Lacedaemonians made ready and set forth to the 
attack of Samos, from a motive of gratitude, if we may believe 
the Samians, because the Samians had once sent ships to their 
aid against the Messenians; but as the Spartans themselves 
say, not so much from any wish to assist the Samians who 
begged their help, as from a desire to punish the people who 
had seized the bowl which they sent to Croesus, 1 and the corselet 
which Amasis, king of Egypt, sent as a present to them. The 
Samians made prize of this corselet the year before they took 
the bowl it was of linen, and had a vast number of figures of 
animals inwoven into its fabric, and was likewise embroidered 
with gold and tree-wool. 2 What is most worthy of admiration 
in it is, that each of the twists, although of fine texture, contains 
within it three hundred and sixty threads, all of them clearly 
visible. The corselet which Amasis gave to the temple of 
Minerva in Lindus is just such another. 3 

48. The Corinthians likewise right willingly lent a helping 
hand towards the expedition against Samos; for a generation 
earlier, about the time of the seizure of the wine-bowl, 4 they too 
had suffered insult at the hands of the Samians. It happened 
that Periander, son of Cypselus, had taken three hundred boys, 
children of the chief nobles among the Corcyraans, and sent 
them to Alyattes for eunuchs ; the men who had them in charge 
touched at Samos on their way to Sardis; whereupon the 
Samians, having found out what was to become of the boys 

1 Vide supra, i. 70. 

1 This is the name by which Herodotus designates " cotton," as is plain 
from ch. 106 of this Book, and from Book vii. ch. 65. 

1 Vide supra, ii. 182. 

4 On the strength of this passage and another (v. 94), I should think 
it probable that Periander s reign came down at least as low as B.C. 567. 

234 The History of Herodotus BOOK m. 

when they reached that city, first prompted them to take 
sanctuary at the temple of Diana; and after this, when the 
Corinthians, as they were forbidden to tear the suppliants from 
the holy place, sought to cut off from them all supplies of food, 
invented a festival in their behoof, which they celebrate to this 
day with the self-same rites. Each evening, as night closed in, 
during the whole time that the boys continued there, choirs of 
youths and virgins were placed about the temple, carrying in 
their hands cakes made of sesame and honey, in order that the 
Corcyrsean boys might snatch the cakes, and so get enough to 
live upon. 

49. And this went on for so long, that at last the Corinthians 
who had charge of the boys gave them up, and took their 
departure, upon which the Samians conveyed them back to 
Corey ra. If now, after the death of Periander, the Corinthians 
and Corcyraeans had been good friends, it is not to be imagined 
that the former would ever have taken part in the expedition 
against Samos for such a reason as this ; but as, in fact, the two 
people have always, ever since the first settlement of the island, 
been enemies to one another, this outrage was remembered, and 
the Corinthians bore the Samians a grudge for it. Periander 
had chosen the youths from among the first families in Corcyra, 
and sent them a present to Alyattes, to revenge a wrong which 
he had received. For it was the Corcyraeans who began the 
quarrel and injured Periander by an outrage of a horrid nature, 

50. After Periander had put to death his wife Melissa, it 
chanced that on this first affliction a second followed of a 
different kind. His wife had borne him two sons, and one of 
them had now reached the age of seventeen, the other of 
eighteen years, when their mother s father, Procles, tyrant of 
Epidaurus, asked them to his court. They went, and Procles 
treated them with much kindness, as was natural, considering 
they were his own daughter s children. At length, when the 
time for parting came, Procles, as he was sending them on their 
way, said, " Know you now, my children, who it was that caused 
your mother s death? The elder son took no account of this 
speech, but the younger, whose name was Lycophron, was sorely 
troubled at it so much so, that when he got back to Corinth, 
looking upon his father as his mother s murderer, he would 
neither speak to him, nor answer when spoken to, nor utter a 
word in reply to all his questionings. So Periander at last, grow 
ing furious at such behaviour, banished him from his house* 

CHAP. 49-52. Periander and His Son 235 

51. The younger son gone, he turned to the elder and asked 
him, " what it was that their grandfather had said to them? 
Then he related in how kind and friendly a fashion he had 
received them ; but, not having taken any notice of the speech 
which Procles had uttered at parting, he quite forgot to mention 
it. Periander insisted that it was not possible this should be 
all their grandfather must have given them some hint or 
other and he went on pressing him, till at last the lad remem 
bered the parting speech and told it. Periander, after he had 
turned the whole matter over in his thoughts, and felt unwilling 
to give way at all, sent a messenger to the persons who had 
opened their houses to his outcast son, and forbade them to 
harbour him. Then the boy, when he was chased from one 
friend, sought refuge with another, but was driven from shelter 
to shelter by the threats of his father, who menaced all those 
that took him in, and commanded them to shut their doors 
against him. Still, as fast as he was forced to leave one house 
he went to another, and was received by the inmates; for his 
acquaintance, although in no small alarm, yet gave him shelter, 
as he was Periander s son. 

52. At last Periander made proclamation that whoever 
harboured his son or even spoke to him, should forfeit a certain 
sum of money to Apollo. On hearing this no one any longer 
liked to take him in, or even to hold converse with him, and he 
himself did not think it right to seek to do what was forbidden; 
so, abiding by his resolve, he made his lodging in the public 
porticos. When four days had passed in this way, Periander, 
seeing how wretched his son was, that he neither washed nor 
took any food, felt moved with compassion towards him ; where 
fore, foregoing his anger, he approached him, and said, Which 
is better, oh 1 my son, to fare as now thou farest, or to receive my 
crown and all the good things that I possess, on the one condition 
of submitting thyself to thy father? See, now, though my own 
child, and lord of this wealthy Corinth, thou hast brought thy 
self to a beggar s life, because thou must resist and treat with 
anger him whom it least behoves thee to oppose. If there has 
been a calamity, and thou bearest me ill will on that account, 
bethink thee that I too feel it, and am the greatest sufferer, 
in as much as it was by me that the deed was done. For 
thyself, now that thou knowest how much better a thing it is 
to be envied than pitied, and how dangerous it is to indulge 
anger against parents and superiors, come back with me to thy 

236 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

home." With such words as these did Periander chide his son; 
but the son made no reply, except to remind his father that he 
was indebted to the god in the penalty for coming and holding 
converse with him. Then Periander knew that there was no 
cure for the youth s malady, nor means of overcoming it; so he 
prepared a ship and sent him away out of his sight to Corcyra, 
which island at that time belonged to him. As for Procles, 
Periander, regarding him as the true author of all his present 
troubles, went to war with him as soon as his son was gone, and 
not only made himself master of his kingdom Epidaurus, but 
also took Procies himself, and carried him into captivity. 

53. As time went on, and Periander came to be old, he found 
himself no longer equal to the oversight and management of 
affairs. Seeing, therefore, in his eldest son no manner of ability, 
but knowing him to be dull and blockish, he sent to Corcyra and 
recalled Lycophron to take the kingdom. Lycophron, however, 
did not even deign to ask the bearer of this message a question. 
But Periander s heart was set upon the youth, so he sent again 
to him, this time by his own daughter, the sister of Lycophron, 
who would, he thought, have more power to persuade him than 
any other person. Then she, when she reached Corcyra, spoke 
thus with her brother: " Dost thou wish the kingdom, brother, 
to pass into strange hands, and our father s wealth to be made a 
prey, rather than thyself return to enjoy it? Come back home 
with me, and cease to punish thyself. It is scant gain, this 
obstinacy. Why seek to cure evil by evil? Mercy, remember, 
is by many set above justice. Many, also, while pushing their 
mother s claims have forfeited their father s fortune. Power is 
a slippery thing it has many suitors; and he is old and stricken 
in years let not thy own inheritance go to another." Thus 
did the sister, who had been tutored by Periander what to say, 
urge all the arguments most likely to have weight with her 
brother. He however made answer, That so long as he knew 
his father to be still alive, he would never go back to Corinth." 
When the sister brought Periander this reply, he sent to his son 
a third time by a herald, and said he would come himself to 
Corcyra, and let his son take his place at Corinth as heir to his 
kingdom. To these terms Lycophron agreed; and Periander 
was making ready to pass into Corcyra and his son to return to 
Corinth, when the Corcyraeans, being informed of what was 
taking place, to keep Periander away, put the young man to 

CHAP. 53-56. Siege of SamOS 237 

death. 1 For this reason it was that Periander took vengeance 
on the Corcyraeans. 

54. The Lacedaemonians arrived before Samos with a mighty 
armament, and forthwith laid siege to the place. In one of the 
assaults upon the walls, they forced their way to the top of the 
tower which stands by the sea on the side where the suburb is, 
but Polycrates came in person to the rescue with a strong force, 
and beat them back. Meanwhile at the upper tower, which 
stood on the ridge of the hill, the besieged, both mercenaries 
and Samians, made a sally; but after they had withstood the 
Lacedaemonians a short time, they fled backwards, and the 
Lacedaemonians, pressing upon them, slew numbers. 

55. If now all who were present had behaved that day like 
Archias and Lycopas, two of the Lacedaemonians, Samos might 
have been taken. For these two heroes, following hard upon 
the flying Samians, entered the city along with them, and, being 
all alone, and their retreat cut off, were slain within the walls 
->f the place. I myself once fell in with the grandson of this 
Archias, a man named Archias like his grandsire, and the son of 
Samius, whom I met at Pitana, to which canton he belonged. 
He respected the Samians beyond all other foreigners, and he 
told me that his father was called Samius, because his grand 
father Archias died in Samos so gloriously, and that the reason 
why he respected the Samians so greatly was, that his grandsire 
was buried with public honours by the Samian people. 

56. The Lacedaemonians besieged Samos during forty days, 
but not making any progress before the place, they raised the 
siege at the end of that time, and returned home to the Pelo- 
ponnese. There is a silly tale told, that Polycrates struck a 
quantity of the coin of his country in lead, and, coating it with 
gold, gave it to the Lacedaemonians, who on receiving it took 
their departure. 2 

This was the first expedition into Asia of the Lacedaemonian 
Dorians. 3 

1 The Scholiast on Thucyd. i. 13, states that the naval battle there 
spoken of as the earliest upon record, took place in a war between Corinth 
and Corcyra arising out of this murder. 

* This tale may have been false, yet it is not without its value. It shows 
the general opinion of the corruptibility of the Spartans. The peculiar 
attractions possessed by the vetitum nefas may account for the greater 
openness of the Spartans to bribery than the other Greeks. Traces of this 
national characteristic appear in other parts of Herodotus s History; for 
instance, in the story of Masandrius (iiL 148), ia that of Cleomenes (v. 51), 
and in that of Leotychidas (vi. 72). 

* These words are emphatic. They mark the place which this expedition 

238 The History of Herodotus BOOK m. 

57. The Samians who had fought against Polycrates, when 
they knew that the Lacedaemonians were about to forsake them, 
left Samos themselves, and sailed to Siphnos. 1 They happened 
to be in want of money ; and the Siphnians at that time were at 
the height of their greatness, no islanders having so much wealth 
as they. There were mines of gold and silver in their country, 
and of so rich a yield, that from a tithe of the ores the Siphnians 
furnished out a treasury at Delphi which was on a par with the 
grandest there. What the mines yielded was divided year by 
year among the citizens. At the time when they formed the 
treasury, the Siphnians consulted the oracle, and asked whether 
their good things would remain to them many years. The 
Pythoness made answer as follows : 

" When the Prytanies seat shines white * in the island of Siphnos, 
White-browed all the forum need then of a true seer s wisdom 
Danger will threat from a wooden host, and a herald in scarlet." 

Now about this time the forum of the Siphnians and their town- 
hall or prytaneum had been adorned with Parian marble. 3 

58. The Siphnians, however, were unable to understand the 
oracle, either at the time when it was given, or afterwards on 
the arrival of the Samians. For these last no sooner came to 
anchor off the island than they sent one of their vessels, with an 
ambassage on board, to the city. All ships in these early times 
were painted with vermilion ; 4 and this was what the Pythoness 
had meant when she told them to beware of danger * from a 

occupies in the mind of Herodotus. It is an aggression of the Greeks upon 
ASIA, and therefore a passage in the history of the great quarrel between 
Persia and Greece, for all Asia is the King s (i. 4). 

1 Siphnos (the modern Si/anto) is one of the western Cyclades. 

*The mention of whiteness here, and the expression " then," show that 
the attack was to be made before the Siphnians had had time to colour their 
buildings. In Herodotus s time they were evidently painted, but " then 
they had merely the natural hue of the white marble. The Greek custom of 
painting their monuments was common from the earliest to the latest times, 
and traces of colour are found on the Parthenon and other buildings. At 
first they were covered with painted stucco; and when marble took its 
place it received the same coloured ornaments, for which it was as well 
suited as its less durable predecessor. 

* This is the first known instance of the use of Parian marble in orna 
mental building. 

* Yet Homer almost invariably speaks of " black ships " (riji juAcuycu). 
Perhaps, however, there is no contradiction here. For Homer s ships 
are " crimson-cheeked," or " vermilion-cheeked." It would seem that 
while the hull of the vessel was in the main black, being probably covered 
with pitch or some similar substance, the sides above the water, which 
Homer called the | cheeks " of the ship, were red. Herodotus may not 
mean more than this. 

CHAP. 57-60. Purchase of Hydrea 239 

wooden host, and a herald in scarlet." So the ambassadors 
came ashore and besought the Siphnians to lend them ten talents ; 
but the Siphnians refused, whereupon the Samians began to 
plunder their lands. Tidings of this reached the Siphnians, who 
straightway sallied forth to save their crops; then a battle was 
fought, in which the Siphnians suffered defeat, and many of 
their number were cut off from the city by the Samians, after 
which these latter forced the Siphnians to give them a hundred 

59. With this money they bought of the Hermionians the 
island of Hydrea, 1 off the coast of the Peloponnese, and this they 
gave in trust to the Troezenians, to keep for them, while they 
themselves went on to Crete, and founded the city of Cydonia 
They had not meant, when they set sail, to settle there, but only 
to drive out the Zacynthians from the island. However they 
rested at Cydonia, 2 where they flourished greatly for five years. 
It was they who built the various temples that may still be seen 
at that place, and among them the fane of Dictyna. 3 But in 
the sixth year they were attacked by the Eginetans, who beat 
them in a sea-fight, and, with the help of the Cretans, reduced 
them all to slavery. The beaks of their ships, which carried the 
figure of a wild boar, they sawed off, and laid them up in the 
temple of Minerva in Egina. The Eginetans took part against 
the Samians on account of an ancient grudge, since the Samians 
had first, when Amphicrates was king of Samos, made war on 
them and done great harm to their island, suffering, however, 
much damage also themselves. Such was the reason which 
moved the Eginetans to make this attack. 

60. I have dwelt the longer on the affairs of the Samians, 
because three of the greatest works in all Greece were made by 
them. One is a tunnel, under a hill one hundred and fifty 
fathoms high, carried entirely through the base of the hill, with 
a mouth at either end. The length of the cutting is seven fur 
longs the height and width are each eight feet. Along the 
whole course there is a second cutting, twenty cubits deep and 
three feet broad, whereby water is brought, through pipes, from 

1 An island about twelve miles long, and only two or three broad, off 
the coast of the Argolic peninsula. 

* Cydonia lay on the northern coast of Crete, towards the western end 
of the island. 

* Dictyna, or Dictynna, was the same as Britomartis, an ancient goddess 
of the Cretans. The Greeks usually regarded her as identical with their 
Artemis (Diana). 

I 405 I 

24 The History of Herodotus BOOK in, 

an abundant source into the city. The architect of this tunnel 
was Eupalinus, son of Naustrophus, a Megarian. Such is the 
first of their great works ; the second is a mole in the sea, which 
goes all round the harbour, near twenty fathoms deep, and in 
length above two furlongs. The third is a temple; the largest 
of all the temples known to us, 1 whereof Rhcecus, son of Phileus, 
a Samian, was first architect. Because of these works I have 
dwelt the longer on the affairs of Samos. 

61. While Cambyses, son of Cyrus, after losing his senses, 
still lingered in Egypt, two Magi, brothers, revolted against 
him. One of them had been left in Persia by Cambyses as 
comptroller of his household; and it was he who began the 
revolt. Aware that Smerdis was dead, and that his death was 
hid, and known to few of the Persians, while most believed that 
he was still alive, he laid his plan, and made a bold stroke for 
the crown. He had a brother the same of whom I spoke 
before as his partner in the revolt who happened greatly to 
resemble Smerdis the son of Cyrus, whom Cambyses his brother 
had put to death. And not only was this brother of his like 
Smerdis in person, but he also bore the selfsame name, to wit 
Smerdis. Patizeithes, the other Magus, having persuaded him 
that he would carry the whole business through, took him and 
made him sit upon the royal throne. Having so done, he sent 
heralds through all the land, to Egypt and elsewhere, to make 
proclamation to the troops that henceforth they were to obey 
Smerdis the son of Cyrus, and not Cambyses. 

62. The other heralds therefore made proclamation as they 
were ordered, and likewise the herald whose place it was to pro 
ceed into Egypt. He, when he reached Agbatana in Syria, 
finding Cambyses and his army there, went straight into the 
middle of the host, and standing forth before them all, made 
the proclamation which Patizeithes the Magus had commanded. 
Cambyses no sooner heard him, than believing that what the 
herald said was true, and imagining that he had been betrayed 
by Prexaspes (who, he supposed, had not put Smerdis to death 
when sent into Persia for that purpose), he turned his eyes full 
upon Prexaspes, and said, " Is this the way, Prexaspes, that 
thou didst my errand ? " Oh ! my liege," answered the other, 
" there is no truth in the tidings that Smerdis thy brother has 
revolted against thee, nor hast thou to fear in time to come any 

1 Herodotus means no doubt " the largest Greek temple," since the 
Egyptian temples were of much greater siae. 

CHAP. 61-64. The Prophecy Fulfilled 241 

quarrel, great or small, with that man. With my own hands 
I wrought thy will on him, and with my own hands I buried 
him. If of a truth the dead can leave their graves, expect 
Astyages the Mede to rise and fight against thee; but if the 
course of nature be the same as formerly, then be sure no ill 
will ever come upon thee from this quarter. Now therefore my 
counsel is, that we send in pursuit of the herald, and strictly 
question him who it was that charged him to bid us obey king 

63. When Prexaspes had so spoken, and Cambyses had ap 
proved his words, the herald was forthwith pursued, and brought 
back to the king. Then Prexaspes said to him, Sirrah, thou 
bear st us a message, sayst thou, from Smerdis, son of Cyrus. 
Now answer truly, and go thy way scathless. Did Smerdis have 
thee to his presence and give thee thy orders, or hadst thou 
them from one of his officers ? The herald answered, Truly 
I have not set eyes on Smerdis son of Cyrus, since the day when 
king Cambyses led the Persians into Egypt. The man who 
gave me my orders was the Magus that Cambyses left in charge 
of the household; but he said that Smerdis son of Cyrus sent 
you the message." In all this the herald spoke nothing but the 
strict truth. Then Cambyses said thus to Prexaspes: " Thou 
art free from all blame, Prexaspes, since, as a right good man, 
thou hast not failed to do the thing which I commanded. But 
tell me now, which of the Persians can have taken the name of 
Smerdis, and revolted from me? "I think, my liege," he 
answered, " that I apprehend the whole business. The men who 
have risen in revolt against thee are the two Magi, Patizeithes, 
who was left comptroller of thy household, and his brother, who 
is named Smerdis." 

64. Cambyses no sooner heard the name of Smerdis than he 
was struck with the truth of Prexaspes words, and the fulfil 
ment of his own dream the dream, I mean, which he had in 
former days, when one appeared to him in his sleep and told 
him that Smerdis sate upon the royal throne, and with his head 
touched the heavens. 1 So when he saw that he had needlessly 
slain his brother Smerdis, he wept and bewailed his loss: after 
which, smarting with vexation as he thought of all his ill luck, he 
sprang hastily upon his steed, meaning to march his army with 
all haste to Susa against the Magus. As he made his spring, 
the button of his sword-sheath fell off, and the bared point 

1 Supra, ch. 30. 

242 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

entered his thigh, wounding him exactly where he had himself 
once wounded the Egyptian god Apis. 1 Then Cambyses, feeling 
that he had got his death-wound, inquired the name of the place 
where he was, and was answered, " Agbatana. { Now before 
this it had been told him by the oracle at Buto that he should 
end his days at Agbatana. He, however, had understood the 
Median Agbatana, where all his treasures were, and had thought 
that he should die there in a good old age; but the oracle meant 
Agbatana in Syria. So when Cambyses heard the name of the 
place, the double shock that he had received, from the revolt of 
the Magus and from his wound, brought him back to his senses. 
And he understood now the true meaning of the oracle, and 
said, " Here then Cambyses, son of Cyrus, is doomed to die." 

65. At this time he said no more; but twenty days afterwards 
he called to his presence all the chief Persians who were with the 
army, and addressed them as follows: " Persians, needs must 
I tell you now what hitherto I have striven with the greatest 
care to keep concealed. When I was in Egypt I saw in my 
sleep a vision, which would that I had never beheld 1 I thought 
a messenger came to me from my home, and told me that 
Smerdis sate upon the royal throne, and with his head touched 
the heavens. Then I feared to be cast from m)^ throne by 
Smerdis my brother, and I did what was more hasty than wise. 
Ah ! truly, do what they may, it is impossible for men to turn 
aside the coming fate. I, in my folly, sent Prexaspes to Susa 
to put my brother to death. So this great woe was accom 
plished, and 1 then lived without fear, never imagining that, 
after Smerdis was dead, I need dread revolt from any other. 
But herein I had quite mistaken what was about to happen, and 
so I slew my brother without any need, and nevertheless have 
lost my crown. For it was Smerdis the Magus, and not Smerdis 
my brother, of whose rebellion God forewarned me by the vision, 
The deed is done, however, and Smerdis, son of Cyrus, be sure 
is lost to you. The Magi have the royal power Patizeithes, 
whom I left at Susa to overlook my household, and Smerdis his 
brother. There was one who would have been bound beyond 
all others to avenge the wrongs I have suffered from these 
Magians, but he, alas 1 has perished by a horrid fate, deprived 
of life by those nearest and dearest to him. In his default, 

1 The details here are suspicious, since they evidently come from the 
Egyptian priests, who wish to represent the death of Cambyses as a judg 
ment upon him for his impiety. 

CHAP. 65-57. Death of Cambyses 243 

nothing now remains for me but to tell you, Persians, what I 
would wish to have done after I have breathed my last. There 
fore, in the name of the Gods that watch over our royal house, 
I charge you all, and specially such of you as are Achaemenids, 
that ye do not tamely allow the kingdom to go back to the 
Medes. Recover it one way or another, by force or fraud; by 
fraud, if it is by fraud that they have seized on it; by force, if 
force has helped them in their enterprise. Do this, and then 
may your land bring you forth fruit abundantly, and your wives 
bear children, and your herds increase, and freedom be your 
portion for ever: but do it not make no brave struggle to 
regain the kingdom and then my curse be on you, and may 
the opposite of all these things happen to you and not only so, 
but may you, one and all, perish at the last by such a fate as 
mine 1 Then Cambyses, when he left speaking, bewailed his 
whole misfortune from beginning to end. 

66. Whereupon the Persians, seeing their king weep, rent 
the garments that they had on, and uttered lamentable cries; 
after which, as the bone presently grew carious, and the limb 
gangrened, Cambyses, son of Cyrus, died. He had reigned in 
all seven years and five months, 1 and left no issue behind 
him, male or female. The Persians who had heard his words, 
put no faith in anything that he said concerning the Magi 
having the royal power; but believed that he spoke out of 
hatred towards Smerdis, and had invented the tale of his death 
to cause the whole Persian race to rise up in arms against him. 
Thus they were convinced that it was Smerdis the son of Cyrus 
who had rebelled and now sate on the throne. For Prexaspes 
stoutly denied that he had slain Smerdis, since it was not safe 
for him, after Cambyses was dead, to allow that a son of Cyrus 
had met with death at his hands. 

67. Thus then Cambyses died, and the Magus now reigned in 
security, and passed himself off for Smerdis the son of Cyrus. 
And so went by the seven months which were wanting to com 
plete the eighth year of Cambyses. His subjects, while his 
reign lasted, received great benefits from him, insomuch that, 
when he died, all the dwellers in Asia mourned his loss ex 
ceedingly, except only the Persians. For no sooner did he 
come to the throne than forthwith he sent round to every nation 
under his rule, and granted them freedom from war-service and 
from taxes for the space of three years, 

1 Vide infra, ch. 67. 

244 Th e History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

68. In the eighth month, however, it was discovered who he 
was in the mode following. There was a man called Otanes, 
the son of Pharnaspes, who for rank and wealth was equal to 
the greatest of the Persians. This Otanes was the first to 
suspect that the Magus was not Smerdis the son of Cyrus, and 
to surmise moreover who he really was. He was led to guess 
the truth by the king never quitting the citadel. 1 and never call 
ing before him any of the Persian noblemen. As soon, there 
fore, as his suspicions were aroused he adopted the following 
measures : One of his daughters, who was called Phsedima, had 
been married to Cambyses, and was taken to wife, together 
with the rest of Cambyses* wives, by the Magus. To this 
daughter Otanes sent a message, and inquired of her " who it 
was whose bed she shared, was it Smerdis the son of Cyrus, or 
was it some other man? Phsedima in reply declared she did 
not know Smerdis the son of Cyrus she had never seen, and 
so she could not tell whose bed she shared. Upon this Otanes 
sent a second time, and said, " If thou dost not know Smerdis 
son of Cyrus thyself, ask queen Atossa who it is with whom ye 
both live she cannot fail to know her own brother." To this 
the daughter made answer, " I can neither get speech with 
Atossa, nor with any of the women who lodge in the palace. 
For no sooner did this man, be he who he may, obtain the 
kingdom, than he parted us from one another, and gave us all 
separate chambers/ 5 

69. This made the matter seem still more plain to Otanes. 
Nevertheless he sent a third message to his daughter in these 
words following: " Daughter, thou art of noble blood thou 
wilt not shrink from a risk which thy father bids thee encounter. 
If this fellow be not Smerdis the son of Cyrus, but the man 
whom I think him to be, his boldness in taking thee to be his 
wife, and lording it over the Persians, must not be allowed to 
pass unpunished. Now therefore do as I command when next 
he passes the night with thee, wait till thou art sure he is fast 
asleep, and then feel for his ears. If thou findest him to have 
ears, then believe him to be Smerdis the son of Cyrus, but if 
he has none, know him for Smerdis the Magian." Phsedima 
returned for answer, " It would be a great risk. If he was 
without ears, and caught her feeling for them, she well knew he 

1 By the citadel (aKp6Tro\is) it is uncertain whether Herodotus means 
the citadel proper, or the only royal palace at Susa (v. infr. ch. 70), called 
by the Greeks " the Memnonium," which he speaks of below (v. 54), and 
which was no doubt strongly fortified. 

CHAP. 68-71. The Seven Conspirators 245 

would make away with her nevertheless she would venture." 
So Otanes got his daughter s promise that she would do as he 
desired. Now Smerdis the Magian had had his ears cut off in 
the lifetime of Cyrus son of Cambyses, as a punishment for a 
crime of no slight heinousness. 1 Phaedima therefore, Otanes 1 
daughter, bent on accomplishing what she had promised her 
father, when her turn came, and she was taken to the bed of 
the Magus (in Persia a man s wives sleep with him in their 
turns 2 ), waited till he was sound asleep, and then felt for his 
ears. She quickly perceived that he had no ears; and of this, 
as soon as day dawned, she sent word to her father. 

70. Then Otanes took to him two of the chief Persians, 
Aspathines and Gobryas, 3 men whom it was most advisable to 
trust in such a matter, and told them everything. Now they 
had already of themselves suspected how the matter stood. 
When Otanes therefore laid his reasons before them they at 
once came into his views; and it was agreed that each of the 
three should take as companion in the work the Persian in 
whom he placed the greatest confidence. Then Otanes chose 
Intaphernes, Gobryas Megabyzus, and Aspathines Hydarnes. 4 
After the number had thus become six, Darius, the son of 
Hystaspes, arrived at Susa from Persia, whereof his father was 
governor. 5 On his coming it seemed good to the six to take him 
likewise into their counsels. 

71. After this, the men, being now seven in all, met together 
to exchange oaths, and hold discourse with one another. And 
when it came to the turn of Darius to speak his mind, he said as 
follows: " Methought no one but I knew that Smerdis, the son 
of Cyrus, was not now alive, and that Smerdis the Magian ruled 
over us; on this account I came hither with speed, to compass 
the death of the Magian. But as it seems the matter is known 
to you all, and not to me only, my judgment is that we should 
act at once, and not any longer delay. For to do so were not 
well." Otanes spoke upon this: " Son of Hystaspes/ said he, 

thou art the child of a brave father, and seemest likely to 

1 See, below, the story of Zopyrus, which implies that such mutilation was 
an ordinary punishment (infra, chs. 154-158). 
* Compare Esther ii. 12. 

3 Gobryas appears to have been the bow-bearer of Darius. Such an 
office might, I think, have been held by a Persian of very exalted rank. 

4 He was employed by Darius on occasion of the Median revolt, and 
gained a great victory over the Medes in their own country. 

6 The curious fact, that Darius became king in his father s lifetime, is 
confirmed by the Behistun Inscription. 

246 The History of Herodotus BOOK IIL 

show thyself as bold a gallant as he. Beware, however, of rash 
haste in this matter; do not hurry so, but proceed with sober 
ness. We must add to our number ere we adventure to strike 
the blow." " Not so/ Darius rejoined; " for let all present be 
well assured, that if the advice of Otanes guide our acts, we 
shall perish most miserably. Some one will betray our plot 
to the Magians for lucre s sake. Ye ought to have kept the 
matter to yourselves, and so made the venture ; but as ye have 
chosen to take others into your secret, and have opened the 
matter to me, take my advice and make the attempt to-day 
or if not, if a single day be suffered to pass by, be sure that I will 
let no one betray me to the Magian. I myself will go to him, 
and plainly denounce you all." 

72. Otanes, when he saw Darius so hot, replied, " But if thou 
wilt force us to action, and not allow a day s delay, tell us, I 
pray thee, how we shall get entrance into the palace, so as to set 
upon them. Guards are placed everywhere, as thou thyself well 
knowest for if thou hast not seen, at least thou hast heard tell 
of them. How are we to pass these guards, I ask thee? J 
" Otanes," answered Darius, " there are many things easy 
enough in act, which by speech it is hard to explain. There are 
also things concerning which speech is easy, but no noble action 
follows when the speech is done. As for these guards, ye know 
well that we shall not find it hard to make our way through 
them. Our rank alone would cause them to allow us to enter, 
shame and fear alike forbidding them to say us nay. But 
besides, I have the fairest plea that can be conceived for gaining 
admission. I can say that I have just come from Persia, and 
have a message to deliver to the king from my father. An un 
truth must be spoken, where need requires. For whether men 
He, or say true, it is with one and the same object. Men lie, 
because they think to gain by Deceiving others; and speak the 
truth, because they expect to get something by their true speak 
ing, and to be trusted afterwards in more important matters. 
Thus, though their conduct is so opposite, the end of both is 
alike. If there were no gain to be got, your true-speaking man 
would tell untruths as much as your liar, and your liar would 
tell the truth as much as your true-speaking man. The door 
keeper, who lets us in readily, shall have his guerdon some day 
or other ; but woe to the man who resists us, he must forthwith 
be declared an enemy. Forcing our way past him, we will 
press in and go straight to our work." 

CHAP. 72-75. Prexaspes and the Magi 247 

73. After Darius had thus said, Gobryas spoke as follows: 
" Dear friends, when will a fitter occasion offer for us to recover 
the kingdom, or, if we are not strong enough, at least die in the 
attempt? Consider that we Persians are governed by a Median 
Magus, and one, too, who has had his ears cut off! Some of 
you were present when Cambyses lay upon his death-bed such, 
doubtless, remember what curses he called down upon the 
Persians if they made no effort to recover the kingdom. Then, 
indeed, we paid but little heed to what he said, because we 
thought he spoke out of hatred, to set us against his brother. 
Now, however, my vote is, that we do as Darius has counselled 
march straight in a body to the palace from the place where 
we now are, and forthwith set upon the Magian." So Gobryas 
spake, and the others all approved. 

74. While the seven were thus taking counsel together, it so 
chanced that the following events were happening: The Magi 
had been thinking what they had best do, and had resolved for 
many reasons to make a friend of Prexaspes. They knew how 
cruelly he had been outraged by Cambyses, who slew his son 
with an arrow ; 1 they were also aware that it was by his hand 
that Smerdis the son of Cyrus fell, and that he was the only 
person privy to that prince s death ; and they further found him 
to be held in the highest esteem by all the Persians. So they 
called him to them, made him their friend, and bound him by 
a promise and by oaths to keep silence about the fraud which 
they were practising upon the Persians, and not discover it to 
any one; and they pledged themselves that in this case they 
would give him thousands of gifts of every sort and kind. 2 So 
Prexaspes agreed; and the Magi, when they found that they 
had persuaded him so far, went on to another proposal, and said 
they would assemble the Persians at the foot of the palace wall, 
and he should mount one of the towers and harangue them from 
it, assuring them that Smerdis the son of Cyrus, and none but 
he, ruled the land. This they bade him do, because Prexaspes 
was a man of great weight with his countrymen, and had often 
declared in public that Smerdis the son of Cyrus was still alive, 
and denied being his murderer. 

75. Prexaspes said he was quite ready to do their will in the 

Vide supra, ch. 35. 

1 Literally, " ten thousand of every thing ; " that is, of every thing which 
it was customary to give. Similar expressions occur elsewhere in their 
strict proper sense (see i. 50, iv. 88, ix. 81, etc.); but here the phrase can 
only be a strong hyperbole. 

t 405 *I 

248 The History of Herodotus BOOK m. 

matter ; so the Magi assembled the people, and placed Prexaspes 
upon the top of the tower, and told him to make his speech. 
Then this man, forgetting of set purpose all that the Magi had 
intreated him to say, began with Achaemenes, and traced down 
the descent of Cyrus; after which, when he came to that king, 
he recounted all the services that had been rendered by him to 
the Persians, from whence he went on to declare the truth, 
which hitherto he had concealed, he said, because it would not 
have been safe for him to make it known, but now necessity 
was laid on him to disclose the whole. Then he told how, forced 
to it by Cambyses, he had himself taken the life of Srnerdis, son 
of Cyrus, and how that Persia was now ruled by the Magi. Last 
of all, with many curses upon the Persians if they did not recover 
the kingdom, and wreak vengeance on the Magi, he threw him 
self headlong from the tower into the abyss below. Such was 
the end of Prexaspes, a man all his life of high repute among the 

76. And now the seven Persians, having resolved that they 
would attack the Magi without more delay, first offered prayers 
to the gods and then set off for the palace, quite unacquainted 
with what had been done by Prexaspes. The news of his doings 
reached them upon their way, when they had accomplished about 
half the distance. Hereupon they turned aside out of the road, 
and consulted together. Otanes and his party said they must 
certainly put off the business, and not make the attack when 
affairs were in such a ferment. Darius, on the other hand, and 
his friends, were against any change of plan, and wished to go 
straight on, and not lose a moment. Now, as they strove 
together, suddenly there came in sight two pairs of vultures, and 
seven pairs of hawks, pursuing them, and the hawks tore the 
vultures both with their claws and bills. At this sight the seven 
with one accord came in to the opinion of Darius, and encouraged 
by the omen hastened on towards the palace. 

77. At the gate they were received as Darius had foretold. 
The guards, who had no suspicion that they came for any ill 
purpose, and held the chief Persians in much reverence, let them 
pass without difficulty it seemed as if they were under the 
special protection of the gods none even asked them any 
question. When they were now in the great court tney fell in 
with certain of the eunuchs, whose business it was to carry the 
king s messages, who stopped them and asked what they wanted, 
while at the same time they threatened the doorkeepers for 

CHAP. 76-79. Death of the Magi 249 

having let them enter. The seven sought to press on, but the 
eunuchs would not suffer them. Then these men, with cheers 
encouraging one another, drew their daggers, and stabbing those 
who strove to withstand them, rushed forward to the apartment 
of the males. 

78. Now both the Magi were at this time within, holding 
counsel upon the matter of Prexaspes. So when they heard 
the stir among the eunuchs, and their loud cries, they ran out 
themselves, to see what was happening. Instantly perceiving 
their danger, they both flew to arms; one had just time to seize 
his bow, the other got hold of his lance; when straightway the 
fight began. The one whose weapon was the bow found it of no 
service at all ; the foe was too near, and the combat too close to 
allow of his using it. But the other made a stout defence with 
his lance, wounding two of the seven, Aspathines in the leg, and 
Intaphernes in the eye. This wound did not kill Intaphernes, 
but it cost him the sight of that eye. The other Magus, when he 
found his bow of no avail, fled into a chamber which opened out 
into the apartment of the males, intending to shut to the doors. 
But two of the seven entered the room with him, Darius and 
Gobryas. Gobryas seized the Magus and grappled with him, 
while Darius stood over them, not knowing what to do; for 
it was dark, 1 and he was afraid that if he struck a blow he 
might kill Gobryas. Then Gobryas, when he perceived that 
Darius stood doing nothing, asked him, why his hand was 
idle? " I fear to hurt thee," he answered. " Fear not," said 
Gobryas; " strike, though it be through both." Darius did as 
he desired, drove his dagger home, and by good hap killed the 

79. Thus were the Magi slain; and the seven, cutting off both 
the heads, and leaving their own wounded in the palace, partly 
because they were disabled, and partly to guard the citadel, 
went forth from the gates with the heads in their hands, shout 
ing and making an uproar. They called out to all the Persians 
that they met, and told them what had happened, showing 
them the heads of the Magi, while at the same time they slew 
every Magus who fell in their way. Then the Persians, when 
they knew what the seven had done, and understood the fraud 
of the Magi, thought it but just to follow the example set them, 

1 The Persian, like the Assyrian palaces, consisted of one or more central 
halls or courts, probably open to the sky, on which adjoined a number of 
ceiled chambers of small size, without windows, and only lighted through 
the doorway, which opened into the court. 

250 The History of Herodotus BOOK IIL 

and, drawing their daggers, they killed the Magi wherever they 
could find any. Such was their fury, that, unless night had 
closed in, not a single Magus would have been left alive. The 
Persians observe this day with one accord, and keep it more 
strictly than any other in the whole year. It is then that they 
hold the great festival, which they call the Magophonia. No 
Magus may show himself abroad during the whole time that the 
feast lasts; but all must remain at home the entire day. 

So. And now when five days were gone, and the hubbub had 
settled down, the conspirators met together to consult about the 
situation of affairs. At this meeting speeches were made, to 
which many of the Greeks give no credence, but they were made 
nevertheless. 1 Otanes recommended that the management of 
public affairs should be entrusted to the whole nation. " To 
me," he said, " it seems advisable, that we should no longer have 
a single man to rule over us the rule of one is neither good nor 
pleasant. Ye cannot have forgotten to what lengths Cambyses 
went in his haughty tyranny, and the haughtiness of the Magi 
ye have yourselves experienced. How indeed is it possible 
that monarchy should be a well-adjusted thing, when it allows 
a man to do as he likes without being answerable? Such 
licence is enough to stir strange and unwonted thoughts in the 
heart of the worthiest of men. Give a person this power, 
and straightway his manifold good things puff him up with 
pride, while envy is so natural to human kind that it cannot 
but arise in him. But pride and envy together include all 
wickedness both of them leading on to deeds of savage violence. 
True it is that kings, possessing as they do all that heart can 
desire, ought to be void of envy; but the contrary is seen in 
their conduct towards the citizens. They are jealous of the 
most virtuous among their subjects, and wish their death; 
while they take delight in the meanest and basest, being ever 
ready to listen to the tales of slanderers. A king, besides, 
is beyond all other men inconsistent with himself. Pay him 
court in moderation, and he is angry because you do not show 
him more profound respect show him profound respect, and he 
is offended again, because (as he says) you fawn on him. But 
the worst of all is, that he sets aside the laws of the land, puts 
men to death without trial, and subjects women to violence. 

1 The incredulity of the Greeks is again alluded to (infra, yi. 43). No 
doubt Herodotus had Persian authority for his tale; but it is so utterly 
fct variance with Oriental notions as to be absolutely incredible. 

CHAP. 80-82. Choice of Government 251 

The rule of the many, on the other hand, has, in the first place, 
the fairest of names, to wit, isonomy ; l and further it is free from 
all those outrages which a king is wont to commit. There, 
places are given by lot, the magistrate is answerable for what he 
does, and measures rest with the commonalty. I vote, there 
fore, that we do away with monarchy, and raise the people to 
power. For the people are all in all." 

81. Such were the sentiments of Otanes. Megabyzus spoke 
next, and advised the setting up of an oligarchy: " In all that 
Otanes has said to persuade you to put down monarchy," he 
observed, " I fully concur; but his recommendation that we 
should call the people to power seems to me not the best advice. 
For there is nothing so void of understanding, nothing so full of 
wantonness, as the unwieldy rabble. It were folly not to be 
borne, for men, while seeking to escape the wantonness of a 
tyrant, to give themselves up to the wantonness of a rude 
unbridled mob. The tyrant, in all his doings, at least knows 
what is he about, but a mob is altogether devoid of knowledge; 
for how should there be any knowledge in a rabble, untaught, 
and with no natural sense of what is right and fit? It rushes 
wildly into state affairs with all the fury of a stream swollen in 
the winter, and confuses everything. Let the enemies of the 
Persians be ruled by democracies; but let us choose out from 
the citizens a certain number of the worthiest, and put the 
government into their hands. For thus both we ourselves shall 
be among the governors, and power being entrusted to the best 
men, it is likely that the best counsels will prevail in the state." 

82. This was the advice which Megabyzus gave, and after 
him Darius came forward, and spoke as follows: "All that 
Megabyzus said against democracy was well said, I think; but 
about oligarchy he did not speak advisedly ; for take these three 
forms of government democracy, oligarchy, and monarchy 
and let them each be at their best, I maintain that monarchy 
far surpasses the other two. What government can possibly be 
better than that of the very best man in the whole state ? The 
counsels of such a man are like himself, and so he governs the 
mass of the people to their heart s content; while at the same 
time his measures against evil-doers are kept more secret than 
in other states. Contrariwise, in oligarchies, where men vie 

1 Modern languages have no single word to express the Greek 
which signified that perfect equality of all civil and political rights which 
was the fundamental notion of the Greek democracy. 

252 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

with each other in the service of the commonwealth, fierce 
enmities are apt to arise between man and man, each wishing 
to be leader, and to carry his own measures; whence violent 
quarrels come, which lead to open strife, often ending in blood 
shed. Then monarchy is sure to follow; and this too shows how 
far that rule surpasses all others. Again, in a democracy, it is 
impossible but that there will be malpractices: these mal 
practices, however, do not lead to enmities, but to close friend 
ships, which are formed among those engaged in them, who must 
hold well together to carry on their villainies. And so things go 
on until a man stands forth as champion of the commonalty, and 
puts down the evil-doers. Straightway the author of so great a 
service is admired by all, and from being admired soon comes to 
be appointed king; so that here too it is plain that monarchy is 
the best government. Lastly, to sum up all in a word, whence, 
I ask, was it that we got the freedom which we enjoy? did 
democracy give it us, or oligarchy, or a monarch? As a single 
man recovered our freedom for us, my sentence is that we keep 
to the rule of one. Even apart from this, we ought not to 
change the laws of our forefathers when they work fairly; for 
to do so is not well." 

83. Such were the three opinions brought forward at this 
meeting; the four other Persians voted in favour of the last. 
Otanes, who wished to give his countrymen a democracy, when 
he found the decision against him, arose a second time, and 
spoke thus before the assembly: "Brother conspirators, it is 
plain that the king who is to be chosen will be one of ourselves, 
whether we make the choice by casting lots for the prize, or by 
letting the people decide which of us they will have to rule over 
them, in or any other way. Now, as I have neither a mind to 
rule nor to be ruled, I shall not enter the lists with you in this 
matter. I withdraw, however, on one condition none of you 
shall claim to exercise rule over me or my seed for ever." The 
six agreed to these terms, and Otanes withdrew and stood aloof 
from the contest. And still to this day the family of Otanes 
continues to be the only free family in Persia ; those who belong 
to it submit to the rule of the king only so far as they them 
selves choose; they are bound, however, to observe the laws of 
the land like the other Persians. 

84. After this the six took counsel together, as to the fairest 
way of setting up a king : and first, with respect to Otanes, they 
resolved, that if any of their own number got the kingdom, 

CHAP. 83-86. Darius Owned King 253 

Otanes and his seed after him should receive year by year, as a 
mark of special honour, a Median robe/ and all such other gifts 
as are accounted the most honourable in Persia. And these 
they resolved to give him, because he was the man who first 
planned the outbreak, and who brought the seven together. 
These privileges, therefore, were assigned specially to Otanes. 
The following were made common to them all: It was to be 
free to each, whenever he pleased, to enter the palace unan 
nounced, unless the king were in the company of one of his 
wives; and the king was to be bound to marry into no family 
excepting those of the conspirators. 2 Concerning the appoint 
ment of a king, the resolve to which they came was the follow 
ing: They would ride out together next morning into the 
skirts of the city, and he whose steed first neighed after the sun 
was up should have the kingdom. 

85. Now Darius had a groom, a sharp-witted knave, called 
(Ebares. After the meeting had broken up, Darius sent for 
him, and said, " QEbares, this is the way in which the king is to 
be chosen we are to mount our horses, and the man whose 
horse first neighs after the sun is up is to have the kingdom. 
If then you have any cleverness, contrive a plan whereby the 
prize may fall to us, and not go to another." Truly, master," 
(Ebares answered, "if it depends on this whether thou shalt be 
king or no, set thine heart at ease, and fear nothing: I have a 
charm which is sure not to fail." If thou hast really aught of 
the kind," said Darius, hasten to get it ready. The matter 
does not brook delay, for the trial is to be to-morrow." So 
(Ebares when he heard that, did as follows : When night came, 
he took one of the mares, the chief favourite of the horse which 
Darius rode, and tethering it in the suburb, brought his master s 
horse to the place ; then, after leading him round and round the 
mare several times, nearer and nearer at each circuit, he ended 
by letting them come together. 

86. And now, when the morning broke, the six Persians, 
according to agreement, met together on horseback, and rode 
out to the suburb. As they went along they neared the spot 
where the mare was tethered the night before, whereupon the 
horse of Darius sprang forward and neighed. Just at the same 
time, though the sky was clear and bright, there was a flash of 

1 Garments have at all times been gifts of honour in the East. (Gen. xlv. 
22; 2 Kings v. 5; 2 Chron. ix. 24, etc.) The practice continues in the 
kaftan of the present day. 

1 So far as can be traced, this rule was always observed. 

254 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

lightning, followed by a thunder-clap. It seemed as if the 
heavens conspired with Darius, and hereby inaugurated him 
king : so the five other nobles leaped with one accord from their 
steeds, and bowed down before him and owned him for their 

87. This is the account which some of the Persians gave of 
the contrivance of CEbares; but there are others who relate the 
matter differently. They say that in the morning he stroked 
the mare with his hand, which he then hid in his trousers until 
the sun rose and the horses were about to start, when he suddenly 
drew his hand forth and put it to the nostrils of his master s 
horse, which immediately snorted and neighed. 

88. Thus was Darius, son of Hystaspes, appointed king ; and, 
except the Arabians, all they of Asia were subject to him; for 
Cyrus, and after him Cambyses, 1 had brought them all under. 
The Arabians were never subject as slaves to the Persians, but 
had a league of friendship with them from the time when they 
brought Cambyses on his way as he went into Egypt; for had 
they been unfriendly the Persians could never have made their 

And now Darius contracted marriages 2 of the first rank, 
according to the notions of the Persians: to wit, with two 
daughters of Cyrus, Atossa and Artystone ; of whom, Atossa had 
been twice married before, once to Cambyses, her brother, and 
once to the Magus, while the other, Artystone, was a virgin. He 
married also Parmys, daughter of Smerdis, son of Cyrus; and 
he likewise took to wife the daughter of Otanes, who had made 
the discovery about the Magus. And now when his power was 
established firmly throughout all the kingdoms, the first thing 
that he did was to set up a carving in stone, which showed a 
man mounted upon a horse, with an inscription in these words 
following: " Darius, son of Hystaspes, by aid of his good horse 
(here followed the horse s name), and of his good groom 
CEbares, got himself the kingdom of the Persians." 

89. This he set up in Persia; and afterwards he proceeded to 
establish twenty governments of the kind which the Persians 
call satrapies, assigning to each its governor, and fixing the 
tribute which was to be paid him by the several nations. And 

1 The Phoenicians and Cyprians would be here alluded to perhaps also 
the Cilicians. 

8 Darius had married a daughter of Gobryas before his accession (vii. 2). 
He also took to wife his niece, Phratagune, the daughter of his brother 
Artanes (vii. 224)* 

CHAP. 87-90. Persian Satrapies 255 

generally he joined together in one satrapy the nations that 
were neighbours, but sometimes he passed over the nearer tribes, 
and put in their stead those which were more remote. The 
following is an account of these governments, and of the yearly 
tribute which they paid to the king: Such as brought their 
tribute in silver were ordered to pay according to the Baby 
lonian talent; while the Euboic was the standard measure for 
such as brought gold. Now the Babylonian talent contains 
seventy Euboic minse. 1 During all the reign of Cyrus, and 
afterwards when Cambyses ruled, there were no fixed tributes, 
but the nations severally brought gifts to the king. On account 
of this and other like doings, the Persians say that Darius was a 
huckster, Cambyses a master, and Cyrus a father; for Darius 
looked to making a gain in everything; Cambyses was harsh 
and reckless; while Cyrus was gentle, and procured them all 
manner of goods. 

90. The lonians, the Magnesians of Asia, 2 the ^Eolians, the 
Carians, the Lycians, the Milyans, 3 and the Pamphylians, paid 
their tribute in a single sum, which was fixed at four hundred 
talents of silver. These formed together the first satrapy. 

The Mysians, Lydians, Lasonians, 4 Cabalians, and Hygennians 
paid the sum of five hundred talents. This was the second 

The Hellespontians, of the right coast as one enters the 
straits, the Phrygians, the Asiatic Thracians, the Paphlagonians, 
the Mariandynians, and the Syrians 5 paid a tribute of three 
hundred and sixty talents. This was the third satrapy. 

The Cilicians gave three hundred and sixty white horses, one 
for each day in the year, 6 and five hundred talents of silver. Of 
this sum one hundred and forty talents went to pay the cavalry 
which guarded the country, while the remaining three hundred 
and sixty were received by Darius. This was the fourth satrapy, 

1 Standards of weight probably passed into Greece from Asia, whence 
the word mina (two) seems certainly to have been derived. That the 
standard known to the Greeks as the Euboic was an Asiatic one, is plain 
from this passage. If the (later) Attic talent was worth 243 155. of our 
money, the Euboic (silver) talent would be 250 8s. 5d., and the Babylonian 
292 35. 3d. 

* There were two towns of the name of Magnesia in Asia Minor, Magnesia 
under Sipylus and Magnesia on the Maeander. 

* Vide supra, i. 173. 

4 In the Seventh Book (ch. 77) Herodotus identifies the Cabalians and 
the Lasonians. 

That is, the Cappadocians. (Vide supra, i. 72.) 

* Compare i. 32, and ii. 4. 

256 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

91. The country reaching from the city of Posideium l (built 
by Amphilochus, son of Amphiaraus, on the confines of Syria 
and Cilicia) to the borders of Egypt, excluding therefrom a 
district which belonged to Arabia, and was free from tax/ paid 
a tribute of three hundred and fifty talents. All Phoenicia, 
Palestine Syria, and Cyprus, were herein contained. This was 
the fifth satrapy. 

From Egypt, and the neighbouring parts of Libya, together 
with the towns of Cyrene and Barca, which belonged to the 
Egyptian satrapy, the tribute which came in was seven hundred 
talents. These seven hundred talents did not include the profits 
of the fisheries of Lake Mceris, nor the corn furnished to the 
troops at Memphis. Corn was supplied to 120,000 Persians, 
who dwelt at Memphis in the quarter called the White Castle, 
and to a number of auxiliaries. This was the sixth satrapy. 

The Sattagydians, the Gandarians, the Dadicae, and the 
Aparytae, who were all reckoned together, paid a tribute of a 
hundred and seventy talents. This was the seventh satrapy. 

Susa, and the other parts of Cissia, paid three hundred talents. 
This was the eighth satrapy. 

92. From Babylonia, and the rest of Assyria, were drawn a 
thousand talents of silver, and five hundred boy-eunuchs. This 
was the ninth satrapy. 

Agbatana, and the other parts of Media, together with the 
Paricanians and Orthocorybantes, paid in all four hundred and 
fifty talents. This was the tenth satrapy. 

The Caspians, Pausicse, Pantimathi, and Daritae, were joined 
in one government, and paid the sum of two hundred talents. 
This was the eleventh satrapy. 

From the Bactrian tribes as far as the ;*Egli, the tribute 
received was three hundred and sixty talents. This was the 
twelfth satrapy. 

93. From Pactyica, Armenia, and the countries reaching 
thence to the Euxine, the sum drawn was four hundred talents. 
This was the thirteenth satrapy. 

The Sagartians, Sarangians, Thamanseans, Utians, and 
Mycians, together with the inhabitants of the islands in the 
Erythraean sea, where the king sends those whom he banishes, 

1 Posidemm lay about 12 miles south of the embouchure of the Orontes. 

* The district here spoken of is that between Gaza (Cadytis) and Jenysus 
(vide supra, ch. 5), which Cambyses traversed on his road to Egypt. Con 
cerning the exemption of the Arabs from tribute, vide infra, ch. 97. 

CHAP. 91-97. Amount of Tribute 257 

furnished altogether a tribute of six hundred talents. This was 
the fourteenth satrapy. 

The Sacans and Caspians gave two hundred and fifty talents. 
This was the fifteenth satrapy. 

The Parthians, Chorasmians, Sogdians, and Arians, gave 
three hundred. This was the sixteenth satrapy. 

94. The Paricanians and Ethiopians of Asia furnished a 
tribute of four hundred talents. This was the seventeenth 

The Matienians, Saspeires, and Alarodians were rated to pay 
two hundred talents. This was the eighteenth satrapy. 

The Moschi, Tibareni, Macrones, Mosynceci, and Mares had 
to pay three hundred talents. This was the nineteenth satrapy. 

The Indians, who are more numerous than any other nation 
with which we are acquainted, paid a tribute exceeding that of 
every other people, to wit, three hundred and sixty talents of 
gold-dust. This was the twentieth satrapy. 

95. If the Babylonian money here spoken of be reduced to 
the Euboic scale, it will make nine thousand five hundred and 
forty such talents; and if the gold be reckoned at thirteen times 
the worth of silver, 1 the Indian gold-dust will come to four 
thousand six hundred and eighty talents. Add these two 
amounts together, and the whole revenue which came in to 
Darius year by year will be found to be in Euboic money fourteen 
thousand five hundred and sixty talents, not to mention parts of 
a talent. 2 

96. Such was the revenue which Darius derived from Asia 
and a small part of Libya. Later in his reign the sum was 
increased by the tribute of the islands, and of the nations of 
Europe as far as Thessaly. The great king stores away the 
tribute which he receives after this fashion he melts it down, 
and, while it is in a liquid state, runs it into earthen vessels, 
which are afterwards removed, leaving the metal in a solid 
mass. When money is wanted, he coins as much of this bullion 
as the occasion requires. 

97. Such then were the governments, and such the amounts 

1 In Greece the relative value of gold varied at different times. Hero 
dotus says gold was to silver as 13 to i, afterwards in Plato and Xenophon s 
time (and more than 100 years after the death of Alexander) it was 10 to i, 
owing to the quantity of gold brought in through the Persian war. It 
long continued at 10 to i (Liv. xxxviii. n) except when an accident altered 
the proportion of those metals. 

1 It is impossible to reconcile Herodotus s numbers, and equally im 
possible to say where the mistake lies. 

258 The History of Herodotus BOOK m. 

of tribute at which they were assessed respectively. Persia 
alone has not been reckoned among the tributaries and for this 
reason,, because the country of the Persians is altogether exempt 
from tax. The following peoples paid no settled tribute, but 
brought gifts to the king: first, the Ethiopians bordering upon 
Egypt, 1 who were reduced by Cambyses when he made war on 
the long-lived Ethiopians, and who dwell about the sacred city 
of Nysa, and have festivals in honour of Bacchus. The grain 
on which they and their next neighbours feed is the same as 
that used by the Calantian Indians. Their dwelling-houses are 
under ground. 2 Every third year these two nations brought 
and they still bring to my day two choenices 8 of virgin gold, 
two hundred logs of ebony, five Ethiopian boys, and twenty 
elephant tusks. The Colchians, and the neighbouring tribes 
who dwell between them and the Caucasus for so far the 
Persian rule reaches, while north of the Caucasus no one fears 
them any longer undertook to furnish a gift, which in my day 
was still brought every fifth year, consisting of a hundred boys, 
and the same number of maidens. The Arabs brought every 
year a thousand talents of frankincense. Such were the gifts 
which the king received over and above the tribute-money. 

98. The way in which the Indians get the plentiful supply of 
gold, which enables them to furnish year by year so vast an 
amount of gold-dust to the king, is the following: Eastward 
of India lies a tract which is entirely sand. Indeed of all 
the inhabitants of Asia, concerning whom anything certain is 
known, the Indians dwell the nearest to the east, and the rising 
of the sun. Beyond them the whole country is desert on 
account of the sand. 4 The tribes of Indians are numerous, and 
do not all speak the same language 5 some are wandering 
tribes, others not. They who dwell in the marshes along the 
river live on raw fish, which they take in boats made of reeds, 
each formed out of a single joint. These Indians wear a dress 

These were the inhabitants of Lower Ethiopia and Nubia. 

* This notion probably arose from their having mud huts, so common in 
central Africa. 

1 [That is, about two quarts. E. H. B.] 

4 The India of Herodotus is the true ancient India, the region about the 
Upper Indus, best known to us at present under the name of the Punjab. 
Herodotus knows nothing of the great southern peninsula. 

6 The Hindoo races are supposed to have been settled in India as early as 
1200 B.C.; which is the date assigned to the Vedas, though these appear 
not to be all of one period. The aborigines are still found in Ceylon and 
in Southern India as well as in the hill-country in other parts; and their 
customs differ as much as their languages from those of the Hindoos. 

CHAP. 98-102. Indian Tribes 259 

of sedge, which they cut in the river and bruise; afterwards 
they weave it into mats, and wear it as we wear a breast-plate^ 

99. Eastward of these Indians are another tribe, called 
Padseans, who are wanderers, and live on raw flesh. This tribe 
is said to have the following customs: If one of their number 
be ill, man or woman, they take the sick person, and if he be a 
man, the men of his acquaintance proceed to put him to death, 
because, they say, his flesh would be spoilt for them if he pined 
and wasted away with sickness. The man protests he is not ill 
in the least; but his friends will not accept his denial in spite 
of all he can say, they kill him, and feast themselves on his 
body. So also if a woman be sick, the women, who are her 
friends, take her and do with her exactly the same as the men< 
If one of them reaches to old age, about which there is seldom 
any question, as commonly before that time they have had some 
disease or other, and so have been put to death but if a man, 
notwithstanding, comes to be old, then they offer him in sacri 
fice to their gods, and afterwards eat his flesh. 1 

100. There is another set of Indians whose customs are very 
different. They refuse to put any live animal to death, 2 they 
sow no corn, and have no dwelling-houses. Vegetables are 
their only food. There is a plant which grows wild in their 
country, bearing seed, about the size of millet-seed, in a calyx: 
their wont is to gather this seed and having boiled it, calyx and 
all, to use it for food. If one of them is attacked with sickness, 
he goes forth into the wilderness, and lies down to die; no one 
has the least concern either for the sick or for the dead. 

10 1. All the tribes which I have mentioned live together like 
the brute beasts: they have also all the same tint of skin, 
which approaches that of the Ethiopians. Their country is a 
long way from Persia towards the south: nor had king Darius 
ever any authority over them. 

102. Besides these, there are Indians of another tribe, who 
border on the city of Caspatyrus, 8 and the country of Pactyica; 
these people dwell northward of all the rest of the Indians, and 
follow nearly the same mode of life as the Bactrians. They 
are more warlike than any of the other tribes, and from them 
the men are sent forth who go to procure the gold. For it is in 

Vide supra, ch. 38. The same custom is said to have prevailed among 
the Massagetae (i. 216) and the Issedonians (iv. 26). 

1 The repugnance of true Brahmins to take away life is well known. 

* [Some say " Kabul," others " Kashmere "; but we have no means &t 
ascertaining the site of Caspatyrus. E. H. B.] 

260 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

this part of India that the sandy desert lies. Here, in this 
desert, there live amid the sand great ants, in size somewhat 
less than dogs, but bigger than foxes. The Persian king has a 
number of them, which have been caught by the hunters in the 
land whereof we are speaking. Those ants make their dwellings 
under ground, and like the Greek ants, which they very much 
resemble in shape, throw up sand-heaps as they burrow. Now 
the sand which they throw up is full of gold. 1 The Indians, 
when they go into the desert to collect this sand, take three 
camels and harness them together, a female in the middle and a 
male on either side, in a leading-rein. The rider sits on the 
female, and they are particular to choose for the purpose one 
that has but just dropped her young; for their female camels 
can run as fast as horses, while they bear burthens very much 

103. As the Greeks are well acquainted with the shape of the 
camel, I shall not trouble to describe it; but I shall mention 
what seems to have escaped their notice. The camel has in its 
hind legs four thigh-bones and four knee-joints. 2 

104. When the Indians therefore have thus equipped them 
selves they set off in quest of the gold, calculating the time so 
that they may be engaged in seizing it during the most sultry 
part of the day, when the ants hide themselves to escape the 
heat. The sun in those parts shines fiercest in the morning, 
not, as elsewhere, at noonday; the greatest heat is from the 
time when he has reached a certain height, until the hour at 
which the market closes. During this space he burns much 
more furiously than at midday in Greece, so that the men there 
are said at that time to drench themselves with water. At noon 
his heat is much the same in India as in other countries, after 
which, as the day declines, the warmth is only equal to that 
of the morning sun elsewhere. Towards evening the coolness 
increases, till about sunset it becomes very cold. 3 

105. When the Indians reach the place where the gold is, 

1 Modern research has not discovered anything very satisfactory either 
with respect to the animal intended, or the habits ascribed to it. Perhaps 
the most plausible conjecture is that which identifies it with the Pengolin, 
or Ant-eater, which burrows on the sandy plains of northern India. 

This is of course untrue, and it is difficult to understand how Herodotus 
could entertain such a notion. There is no real difference, as regards the 
anatomy of the leg, between the horse and the camel. 

Herodotus is apparently narrating what he had heard, and it belongs 
to his simplicity not to mix up his own speculations with the relations which 
he had received from others. 

CHAP. 103-107. Arabian Spices 261 

they fill their bags with the sand, and ride away at their best 
speed: the ants, however, scenting them, as the Persians say, 
rush forth in pursuit. Now these animals are, they declare, 
so swift, that there is nothing in the world like them : if it were 
not, therefore, that the Indians get a start while the ants are 
mustering, not a single gold-gatherer could escape. During the 
flight the male camels, which are not so fleet as the females, 
grow tired, and begin to drag, first one, and then the other; but 
the females recollect the young which they have left behind, 
and never give way or flag. 1 Such, according to the Persians, 
is the manner in which the Indians get the greater part of their 
gold; some is dug out of the earth, but of this the supply is 
more scanty. 2 

1 06. It seems as if the extreme regions of the earth were blessed 
by nature with the most excellent productions, just in the same 
way that Greece enjoys a climate more excellently tempered 
than any other country. In India, which, as I observed lately, 
is the furthest region of the inhabited world towards the east, 
all the four-footed beasts and the birds are very much bigger 
than those found elsewhere, except only the horses, which are 
surpassed by the Median breed called the Nisaean. Gold too is 
produced there in vast abundance, some dug from the earth, 
5ome washed down by the rivers, some carried off in the mode 
which I have but now described. And further, there are trees 
which grow wild there, the fruit whereof is a wool exceeding in 
beauty and goodness that of sheep. The natives make their 
clothes of this tree-wool. 3 

107. Arabia is the last of inhabited lands towards the south, 
and it is the only country which produces frankincense, myrrh, 
cassia, cinnamon, and ladanum. 4 The Arabians 6 do not get 
any of these, except the myrrh, 6 without trouble. The frankin 
cense they procure by means of the gum styrax, 7 which the 

1 Marco Polo relates that, when the Tatars make incursions into the 
country lying to the north of them, they adopt the same device. 

The whole of this region of Central Asia is in the highest degree 

* Vide supra, ch. 47. " Tree-wool " is exactly the German name for 
cotton (Baumwolle). 

1 Ledanon or ladanon, a resin or gum. 

1 The Arabs supplied Egypt with various spices and gums which were 
required for embalming and other purposes. In Genesis xxxvii. 25, the 
Ishmaelites or Arabs were going to Egypt from " Gilead with their camels 
bearing spicery, and balm, and myrrh." 

6 Smyrna, the Greek name of myrrh, is the same as that of the city. 

7 This is the " gum storax " of modern commerce. 

262 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

Greeks obtain from the Phoenicians ; this they burn, and thereby 
obtain the spice. For the trees which bear the frankincense 
are guarded by winged serpents, small in size, and of varied 
colours, whereof vast numbers hang about every tree. They are 
of the same kind as the serpents that invade Egypt; l and there 
is nothing but the smoke of the styrax which will drive them 
from the trees. 

1 08. The Arabians say that the whole world would swarm 
with these serpents, if they were not kept in check in the way in 
which I know that vipers are. Of a truth Divine Providence 
does appear to be, as indeed one might expect beforehand, a 
wise contriver. For timid animals which are a prey to others 
are all made to produce young abundantly, that so the species 
may not be entirely eaten up and lost; while savage and noxious 
creatures are made very unfruitful. The hare, for instance, 
which is hunted alike by beasts, birds, and men, breeds so abun 
dantly as even to superfetate, a thing which is true of no other 
animal. You find in a hare s belly, at one and the same time, 
some of the young all covered with fur, others quite naked, 
others again just fully formed in the womb, while the hare 
perhaps has lately conceived afresh. The lioness, on the other 
hand, which is one of the strongest and boldest of brutes, brings 
forth young but once in her lifetime, 2 and then a single cub; 3 
she cannot possibly conceive again, since she loses her womb at 
the same time that she drops her young. The reason of this is, 
that as soon as the cub begins to stir inside the dam, his claws, 
which are sharper than those of any other animal, scratch the 
womb; as the time goes on, and he grows bigger, he tears it 
ever more and more; so that at last, when the birth comes, 
there is not a morsel in the whole womb that is sound. 

109. Now with respect to the vipers and the winged snakes of 
Arabia, if they increased as fast as their nature would allow, 
impossible were it for man to maintain himself upon the earth. 
Accordingly it is found that when the male and female come 
together, at the very moment of impregnation, the female seizes 
the male by the neck, and having once fastened, cannot be 
brought to leave go till she has bit the neck entirely through. 
And so the male perishes; but after a while he is revenged upon 

1 Vide supra, ii. 75. If serpents, they should be oviparous. 

*The fabulous character of the whole of this account was known to 

* According to travellers, it is not uncommon for the lioness to have 
three or four cubs at a birth. 

CHAP. 108-111, Cinnamon 263 

the female by means of the young, which, while still unborn, 
gnaw a passage through the womb, and then through the belly 
of their mother, and so make their entrance into the world. 
Contrariwise, other snakes, which are harmless, lay eggs, and 
hatch a vast number of young. Vipers are found in all parts of 
the world, but the winged serpents are nowhere seen except in 
Arabia, where they are all congregated together. This makes 
them appear so numerous. 

no. Such, then, is the way in which the Arabians obtain 
their frankincense ; their manner of collecting the cassia 1 is the 
following: They cover all their body and their face with the 
hides of oxen and other skins, leaving only holes for the eyes, 
and thus protected go in search of the cassia, which grows in a 
lake of no great depth. All round the shores and in the lake 
itself there dwell a number of winged animals, much resembling 
bats, which screech horribly, and are very valiant. These 
creatures they must keep from their eyes all the while that they 
gather the cassia. 

in. Still more wonderful is the mode in which they collect 
the cinnamon. Where the wood grows, and what country pro 
duces it, they cannot tell only some, following probability, 
relate that it comes from the country in which Bacchus was 
brought up. 2 Great birds, they say, bring the sticks which we 
Greeks, taking the word from the Phoenicians, call cinnamon, 
and carry them up into the air to make their nests. These are 
fastened with a sort of mud to a sheer face of rock, where no 
foot of man is able to climb. So the Arabians, to get the 
cinnamon, use the following artifice. They cut all the oxen and 
asses and beasts of burthen that die in their land into large 
pieces, which they carry with them into those regions, and place 
near the nests: then they withdraw to a distance, and the old 
birds, swooping down, seize the pieces of meat and fly with them 
up to their nests; which, not being able to support the weight, 
break off and fall to the ground. 3 Hereupon the Arabians return 
and collect the cinnamon, which is afterwards carried from 
Arabia into other countries. 

1 Cassia and cinnamon, according to Larcher (note ad loc.), are from the 
same tree, the only difference being that cinnamon is properly the branch 
with the bark on; cassia is the bark without the branch. 

1 Ethiopia probably. 

1 The story evidently belongs to a whole class of Eastern tales, wherein 
an important part is played by great birds. Compare the rocs in the story 
of Sindbad the Sailor in the Arabian Nights, and the tale related by Marco 
Polo [Travels, p. 393 of the " Everyman s Library " edit.] of the mines oi 

264 The History of Herodotus BOOK m. 

112. Ledanum, which the Arabs call ladanum, is procured in 
a yet stranger fashion. Found in a most inodorous place, it is 
the sweetest-scented of all substances. It is gathered from the 
beards of he-goats, where it is found sticking like gum, having 
come from the bushes on which they browse. It is used in 
many sorts of unguents, and is what the Arabs burn chiefly as 

113. Concerning the spices of Arabia let no more be said. 
The whole country is scented with them, and exhales an odour 
marvellously sweet. There are also in Arabia two kinds of 
sheep worthy of admiration, the like of which is nowhere else 
to be seen; the one kind has long tails, not less than three 
cubits in length, which, if they were allowed to trail on the 
ground, would be bruised and fall into sores. As it is, all the 
shepherds know enough of carpentering to make little trucks 
for their sheep s tails. The trucks are placed under the tails, 
each sheep having one to himself, and the tails are then tied 
down upon them. The other kind has a broad tail, which is a 
cubit across sometimes. 

114. Where the south declines towards the setting sun lies 
the country called Ethiopia, the last inhabited land in that 
direction. There gold is obtained in great plenty, 1 huge 
elephants abound, with wild trees of all sorts, and ebony; and 
the men are taller, handsomer, and longer lived than anywhere 

115. Now these are the furthest regions of the world in Asia 
and Libya. Of the extreme tracts of Europe towards the west 
I cannot speak with any certainty; for I do not allow that there 
is any river, to which the barbarians give the name of Eridanus, 
emptying itself into the northern sea, whence (as the tale goes) 
amber is procured; 2 nor do I know of any islands called the 
Cassiterides 3 (Tin Islands), whence the tin comes which we use. 
For in the first place the name Eridanus is manifestly not a 

1 Vide supra, ch. 22. 

* Here Herodotus is over- cautious, and rejects as fable what we can see 
to be truth. The amber district upon the northern sea is the coast of the 
Baltic about the Gulf of Dantzig, and the mouths of the Vistula and Niemen, 
which is still one of the best amber regions in the world. The very name, 
Eridanus, lingers there in the Rhodaune, the small stream which washes 
the west side of the town of Dantzig. The word Eridanus (= Rhodanus) 
seems to have been applied, by the early inhabitants of Europe, especially 
to great and strong-running rivers. 

3 This name was applied to the Selinae, or Scilly Isles; and the imperfect 
information respecting the site of the mines of tin led to the belief that they 
were there, instead of on the mainland (of Cornwall). 

112-117. Gold Region of Europe 265 

barbarian word at all, but a Greek name, invented by some 
poet or other; and secondly, though I have taken vast pains, I 
have never been able to get an assurance from an eye-witness 
that there is any sea on the further side of Europe. Never 
theless, tin and amber do certainly come to us from the ends 
of the earth. 1 

116. The northern parts of Europe are very much richer in 
gold than any other region: but how it is procured I have no 
certain knowledge. The story runs, that the one-eyed Arimaspi 
purloin it from the griffins ; but here too I am incredulous, and 
cannot persuade myself that there is a race of men born with one 
eye, who in all else resemble the rest of mankind. Nevertheless 
it seems to be true that the extreme regions of the earth, which 
surround and shut up within themselves all other countries, 
produce the things which are the rarest, and which men reckon 
the most beautiful. 

117. There is a plain in Asia which is shut in on all sides by 
a mountain-range, and in this mountain-range are five openings. 
The plain lies on the confines of the Chorasmians, Hyrcanians, 
Parthians, Sarangians, and Thamanseans, and belonged formerly 
to the first-mentioned of those peoples. Ever since the Persians, 
however, obtained the mastery of Asia, it has been the property 
of the Great King. A mighty river, called the Aces, 2 flows 
from the hills inclosing the plain; and this stream, formerly 
splitting into five channels, ran through the five openings in the 
hills, and watered the lands of the five nations which dwell 
around. The Persian came, however, and conquered the 
region, and then it went ill with the people of these lands. 
The Great King blocked up all the passages between the hills 
with dykes and flood-gates, and so prevented the water from 
flowing out. Then the plain within the hills became a sea, 
for the river kept rising, and the water could find no outlet. 
From that time the five nations which were wont formerly 
to have the use of the stream, losing their accustomed supply of 
water, have been in great distress. In winter, indeed, they have 

1 [For a brief account of the amber and tin trades in antiquity, see Tozer, 
History of Ancient Geography, pp. 32 sqq., and for a note on amber, W. 
Ridgeway s art. in Encyclopedia Biblica, cols. 134-136. E. H. B.J 

The plain and the five openings are probably a fable; but the origin 
of the tale may be found in the distribution by the Persian Government 
of the waters (most likely) of the Heri-rud, which is capable of being led 
through the hills Lito the low country north of the range, or of being 
prolonged westward along the range, or finally of being turned southward 
into the desert. 

266 The History of Herodotus BOOK m, 

rain from heaven like the rest of the world, but in summer, 
after sowing their millet and their sesame, they always stood 
in need of water from the river. When, therefore, they suffer 
from this want, hastening to Persia, men and women alike, 
they take their station at the gate of the king s palace, and wail 
aloud. Then the king orders the flood-gates to be opened 
towards the country whose need is greatest, and lets the soil 
drink until it has had enough ; after which the gates on this side 
are shut, and others are unclosed for the nation which, of the 
remainder, needs it most. It has been told me that the king 
never gives the order to open the gates till the suppliants have 
paid him a large sum of money over and above the tribute. 

118. Of the seven Persians who rose up against the Magus, 
one, Intaphernes, lost his life very shortly after the outbreak, 
for an act of insolence. He wished to enter the palace and 
transact a certain business with the king. Now the law was 
that all those who had taken part in the rising against the Magus 
might enter unannounced into the king s presence, unless he 
happened to be in private with his wife. 1 So Intaphernes would 
not have any one announce him, but, as he belonged to ftie seven, 
claimed it as his right to go in. The doorkeeper, however, and 
the chief usher forbade his entrance, since the king, they said, 
was with his wife. But Intaphernes thought they told lies ; so, 
drawing his scymitar, he cut off their noses and their ears, 2 and, 
hanging them on the bridle of his horse, put the bridle round 
their necks, and so let them go. 

119. Then these two men went and showed themselves to 
the king, and told him how it had come to pass that they were 
thus treated. Darius trembled lest it was by the common 
consent of the six that the deed had been done; he therefore 
sent for them all in turn, and sounded them to know if they 
approved the conduct of Intaphernes. When he found by their 
answers that there had been no concert between him and them, 
he laid hands on Intaphernes, his children, and all his near 
kindred ; strongly suspecting that he and his friends were about 
to raise a revolt. When all had been seized and put in chains, as 
malefactors condemned to death, the wife of Intaphernes came 
and stood continually at the palace-gates, weeping and wailing 
sore. So Darius after a while, seeing that she never ceased to 

1 Supra, ch. 84. 

* This mode of punishment has always been common in the East. Its 
infliction by the revolted Sepoys on our own countrymen and country 
women during the Mutiny in 1857 will occur to all readers. 

CHAP. 118-120. OrCEtCS 2&J 

stand and weep, was touched with pity for her, and bade a 
messenger go to her and say, Lady, king Darius gives thee 
as a boon the life of one of thy kinsmen choose which thou 
wilt of the prisoners." Then she pondered awhile before she 
answered, If the king grants me the life of one alone, I make 
choice of my brother. 3 Darius, when he heard the reply, was 
astonished, and sent again, saying, " Lady, the king bids thee 
tell him why it is that thou passest by thy husband and thy 
children, and preferrest to have the life of thy brother spared. 
He is not so near to thee as thy children, nor so dear as thy 
husband." She answered, " king, if the gods will, I may 
have another husband and other children when these are gone. 
But as my father and my mother are no more, it is impossible 
that I should have another brother. This was my thought when 
I asked to have my brother spared." Then it seemed to Darius 
that the lady spoke well, and he gave her, besides the life that 
she had asked, the life also of her eldest son, because he was 
greatly pleased with her. But he slew all the rest. Thus one 
of the seven died, in the way I have described, very shortly 
after the insurrection. 

120. About the time of Cambyses* last sickness, the following 
events happened. There was a certain Orcetes, a Persian, whom 
Cyrus had made governor of Sardis. This man conceived a most 
unholy wish. He had never suffered wrong or had an ill word 
from Polycrates the Samian nay, he had not so much as seen 
him in all his life; yet, notwithstanding, he conceived the wish 
to seize him and put him to death. This wish, according to the 
account which the most part give, arose from what happened 
one day as he v;as sitting with another Persian in the gate of 
the king s palace. The man s name was Mitrobates, and he 
was ruler of the satrapy of Dascyleium. 1 He and Orcetes had 
been talking together, and from talking they fell to quarrelling 
and comparing their merits; whereupon Mitrobates said to 
Orcetes reproachfully, " Art thou worthy to be called a man, 
when, near as Samos lies to thy government, and easy as it is 
to conquer, thou hast omitted to bring it under the dominion of 
the king? Easy to conquer, said I? Why, a mere common 
citizen, with the help of fifteen men-at-arms, mastered the island, 
and is stii! king of it." Orcetes, they say, took this reproach 

1 Dascyleium was the capital city of the great northern satrapy, which 
at this time (according to Herodotus, supra, ch. 90) included the whole 
of Phrygia. 

268 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

greatly to heart; but, instead of seeking to revenge himself on 
the man by whom it was uttered, he conceived the desire of 
destroying Polycrates, since it was on Polycrates account that 
the reproach had fallen on him. 

121. Another less common version of the story is that Oroetes 
sent a herald to Samos to make a request, the nature of which 
is not stated ; Polycrates was at the time reclining in the apart 
ment of the males, and Anacreon the Teian was with him ; when 
therefore the herald came forward to converse, Polycrates, either 
out of studied contempt for the power of Oroetes, or it may be 
merely by chance, was lying with his face turned away towards 
the wall ; and so he lay all the time that the herald spake, and 
when he ended, did not even vouchsafe him a word. 

122. Such are the two reasons alleged for the death of Poly 
crates; it is open to all to believe which they please. What 
is certain is, that Orcetes, while residing at Magnesia on the 
Maeander, sent a Lydian, by name Myrsus, the son of Gyges, 1 
with a message to Polycrates at Samos, well knowing what that 
monarch designed. For Polycrates entertained a design which 
no other Greek, so far as we know, ever formed before him, 
unless it were Minos the Cnossian, and those (if there were any 
such) who had the mastery of the Egaean at an earlier time 
Polycrates, I say, was the first of mere human birth who con 
ceived the design of gaining the empire of the sea, and aspired 
to rule over Ionia and the islands. Knowing then that Poly 
crates was thus minded, Oroetes sent his message, which ran as 
follows : 

" Oroetes to Polycrates thus sayeth : I hear thou raisest thy 
thoughts high, but thy means are not equal to thy ambition. 
Listen then to my words, and learn how thou mayest at once 
serve thyself and preserve me. King Cambyses is bent on my 
destruction of this I have warning from a sure hand. Come 
thou, therefore, and fetch me away, me and all my wealth 
share my wealth with me, and then, so far as money can aid, 
thou mayest make thyself master of the whole of Greece. But if 
thou doubtest of my wealth, send the trustiest of thy followers, 
and. I will show my treasures to him." 

123. Polycrates, when he heard this message, was full of joy, 
and straightway approved the terms; but, as money was what 
he chiefly desired, before stirring in the business he sent his 

1 Vide infra, v. 121. 

CHAP. 121-125. Death of Poly crates 269 

secretary, Maeandrius, son of Maeandrius, 1 a Samian, to look into 
the matter. This was the man who, not very long afterwards, 
made an offering at the temple of Juno of all the furniture which 
had adorned the male apartments in the palace of Polycrates, 
an offering well worth seeing. Orcetes learning that one was 
coming to view his treasures, contrived as follows: he filled 
eight great chests almost brimful of stones, and then covering 
over the stones with gold, corded the chests, and so held them 
in readiness. 2 When Maeandrius arrived, he was shown this as 
Orcetes treasure, and having seen it returned to Samos. 

124. On hearing his account, Polycrates, notwithstanding 
many warnings given him by the soothsayers, and much dis 
suasion of his friends, made ready to go in person. Even the 
dream which visited his daughter failed to check him. She had 
dreamed that she saw her father hanging high in air, washed by 
Jove, and anointed by the sun. Having therefore thus dreamed, 
she used every effort to prevent her father from going; even 
as he went on board his penteconter crying after him with words 
of evil omen. Then Polycrates threatened her that, if he 
returned in safety, he would keep her unmarried many years. 
She answered, "Oh! that he might perform his threat; far 
better for her to remain long unmarried than to be bereft of her 

125. Polycrates, however, making light of all the counsel 
offered him, set sail and went to Orcetes. Many friends accom 
panied him; among the rest, Democedes, the son of Calliphon, 
a native of Crotona, who was a physician, and the best skilled 
in his art of all men then living. Polycrates, on his arrival at 
Magnesia, perished miserably, in a way unworthy of his rank 
and of his lofty schemes. For, if we except the Syracusans, 3 
there has never been one of the Greek tyrants who was to be 
compared with Polycrates for magnificence. Orcetes, however, 
slew him in a mode which is not fit to be described, and then hung 
his dead body upon a cross. His Samian followers Orcetes let 
go free, bidding them thank him that they were allowed their 
liberty ; the rest, who were in part slaves, in part free foreigners, 
he alike treated as his slaves by conquest. Then was the dream 

1 This is the only instance in Herodotus of a Greek bearing the name of 
his father. 

8 Compare the similar artifice by which Hannibal [when in Crete] de 
ceived the Gortynians. [Cf. Nepos, Life of Hannibal, chap. ix. E. H. B.] 

3 Gelo, Hiero, and Thrasybulus, three brothers, who successively ruled 
over Syracuse from B.C. 485 to B.C. 466. 

270 The History of Herodotus BOOK m 

of the daughter of Polycrates fulfilled; for Poly crates, as he 
hung upon the cross, and rain fell on him, was washed by 
Jupiter; and he was anointed by the sun, when his own moisture 
overspread his body. And so the vast good fortune of Poly- 
crates came at last to the end which Amasis the Egyptian king 
had prophesied in days gone by. 

126. It was not long before retribution for the murder of 
Polycrates overtook Orcetes. After the death of Cambyses, and 
during all the time that the Magus sat upon the throne, Qroetes 
remained in Sardis, and brought no help to the Persians, whom 
the Medes had robbed of the sovereignty. On the contrary, 
amid the troubles of this season, he slew Mitrobates, the satrap 
of Dascyleium, who had cast the reproach upon him in the 
matter of Polycrates; and he slew also Mitrobates^ son, 
Cranaspes, both men of high repute among the Persians. He 
was likewise guilty of many other acts of insolence; among the 
rest, of the following : There was a courier sent to him by Darius 
whose message was not to his mind Orcetes had him waylaid 
and murdered on his road back to the king; the man and his 
horse both disappeared, and no traces were left of either. 

127. Darius therefore was no sooner settled upon the throne 
than he longed to take vengeance upon Orcetes for all his mis 
doings, and especially for the murder of Mitrobates and his son. 
To send an armed force openly against him, however, he did not 
think advisable, as the whole kingdom was still unsettled, and 
he too was but lately come to the throne, while Orcetes, as he 
understood, had a great power. In truth a thousand Persians 
attended on him as a body-guard, and he held the satrapies of 
Phrygia, Lydia, and Ionia. Darius therefore proceeded by 
artifice. He called together a meeting of all the chief of the 
Persians, and thus addressed them: " Who among you, 
Persians, will undertake to accomplish me a matter by skill 
without force or tumult? Force is misplaced where the work 
wants skilful management. Who, then, will undertake to bring 
me Orcetes alive, or else to kill him ? He never did the Persians 
any good in his life, and he has wrought us abundant injury* 
Two of our number, Mitrobates and his son, he has slain; and 
when messengers go to recall him, even though they have their 
mandate from rne, with an insolence which is not to be endured, 
he puts them to death. 1 We must kill this man, therefore, 
before he does the Persians any greater hurt." 

1 Turkish pashas and Persian governors have often had recourse to similar 

CHAP. 126-139. Story of Democedes * 271 

128. Thus spoke Darius; and straightway thirty of those 
present came forward and offered themselves for the work. As 
they strove together, Darius interfered, and bade them have 
recourse to the lot. Accordingly lots were cast, and the task 
fell to Bagaeus, son of Artontes. Then Bagaeus caused many 
letters to be written on divers matters, and sealed them all with 
the king s signet; after which he took the letters with him, and 
departed for Sardis. On his arrival he was shown into the 
presence of Orcetes, when he uncovered the letters one by one, 
and giving them to the king s secretary every satrap has with 
him a king s secretary commanded him to read their contents. 
Herein his design was to try the fidelity of the body-guard, and 
to see if they would be likely to fall away from Orcetes. When 
therefore he saw that they showed the letters all due respect, 
and even more highly reverenced their contents, he gave the 
secretary a paper in which was written, Persians, king Darius 
forbids you to guard Oroetes." The soldiers at these words laid 
aside their spears. So Bagaeus, finding that they obeyed this 
mandate, took courage, and gave into the secretary s hands the 
last letter, wherein it was written, " King Darius commands the 
Persians who are in Sardis to kill Oroetes." Then the guards 
drew their swords and slew him upon the spot. Thus did retri 
bution for the murder of Polycrates the Samian overtake Oroetes 
the Persian. 

129. Soon after the treasures of Oroetes had been conveyed 
to Sardis l it happened that king Darius, as he leaped from his 
horse during the chase, sprained his foot. The sprain was one 
of no common severity, for the ankle-bone was forced quite out 
of the socket. Now Darius already had at his court certain 
Egyptians whom he reckoned the best-skilled physicians in all 
the world; 2 to their aid, therefore, he had recourse; but they 
twisted the foot so clumsily, and used such violence, that they 
only made the mischief greater. For seven days and seven 
nights the king lay without sleep, so grievous was the pain he 
suffered. On the eighth day of his indisposition, one who had 
heard before leaving Sardis of the skill of Democedes the Cro- 
toniat, told Darius, who commanded that he should be brought 
with all speed into his presence. When, therefore, they had 
found him among the slaves of Orcetes, quite uncared for by any 

1 In the East the disgrace of a governor, or other great man, has always 
involved the forfeiture of his property to the crown. 

* On the celebrity of the Egyptians as physicians, sec Book ii. ch. 84. 
I 405 K 

272 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

one, they brought him just as he was, clanking his fetters, and 
all clothed in rags, before the king. 

130. As soon as he was entered into the presence, Darius 
asked him if he knew medicine to which he answered " No," 
for he feared that if he made himself known he would lose all 
chance of ever again beholding Greece. Darius, however, per 
ceiving that he dealt deceitfully, and really understood the art, 
bade those who had brought him to the presence go fetch the 
scourges and the pricking-irons. 1 Upon this Democedes made 
confession, but at the same time said, that he had no thorough 
knowledge of medicine he had but lived some time with a 
physician, and in this way had gained a slight smattering of the 
art. However, Darius put himself under his care, and Demo- 
cedes, by using the remedies customary among the Greeks, and 
exchanging the violent treatment of the Egyptians for milder 
means, first enabled him to get some sleep, and then in a very 
little time restored him altogether, after he had quite lost the 
hope of ever having the use of his foot. Hereupon the king 
presented Democedes with two sets of fetters wrought in gold; 
so Democedes asked if he meant to double his sufferings because 
he had brought him back to health? Darius was pleased at 
the speech, and bade the eunuchs take Democedes to see his 
wives, which they did accordingly, telling them all that this was 
the man who had saved the king s life. Then each of the wives 
dipped with a saucer into a chest of gold, and gave so bounti 
fully to Democedes, that a slave named Sciton, who followed 
him, and picked up the staters 2 which fell from the saucers, 
gathered together a great heap of gold. 

131. This Democedes left his country and became attached 
to Poly crates in the following way: His father, who dwelt at 
Crotona, was a man of a savage temper, and treated him cruelly. 
When, therefore, he could no longer bear such constant ill- 
usage, Democedes left his home, and sailed away to Egina. 
There he set up in business, and succeeded the first year in sur 
passing all the best-skilled physicians of the place, notwithstand 
ing that he was without instruments, and had with him none of 
the appliances needful for the practice of his art. In the second 

1 In ancient, as in modern times, putting out the eyes has been a Persian 
punishment. [See the story of Zedekiah, Jeremiah, xxxix. 8. E. H. B.] 

a By staters we must here understand Darics, the earliest gold coin of 
Persia. Herodotus in another place calls them Daric staters (vii. 28). 
These were of very nearly the same value as the staters principally current 
in Greece [i.e. rather over a guinea. E. H. B.]. 

CHAP. 130-134. Democedes and Atossa 273 

year the state of Egina hired his services at the price of a 
talent; in the third the Athenians engaged him at a hundred 
minae; and in the fourth Polycrates at two talents. 1 So he went 
to Samos, and there took up his abode. It was in no small 
measure from his success that the Crotoniats came to be reckoned 
such good physicians; for about this period the physicians of 
Crotona had the name of being the best, and those of Cyrene* 
the second best, in all Greece. The Argives, about the same 
time, were thought to be the first musicians in Greece. 

132. After Democedes had cured Darius at Susa, he dwelt 
there in a large house, and feasted daily at the king s table, nor 
did he lack anything that his heart desired, excepting liberty to 
return to his country. By interceding for them with Darius, 
he saved the lives of the Egyptian physicians who had had the 
care of the king before he came, when they were about to be 
impaled because they had been surpassed by a Greek; and 
further, he succeeded in rescuing an Elean soothsayer, 2 who had 
followed the fortunes of Polycrates, and was lying in utter 
neglect among his slaves. In short there was no one who stood 
so high as Democedes in the favour of the king. 

133. Moreover, within a little while it happened that Atossa, 
the daughter of Cyrus, who was married to Darius, had a boil 
form upon her breast, which, after it burst, began to spread and 
increase. Now so long as the sore was of no great size, she hid 
it through shame and made no mention of it to any one; but 
when it became worse, she sent at last for Democedes, and 
showed it to him. Democedes said that he would make her 
well, but she must first promise him with an oath that if he cured 
her she would grant him whatever request he might prefer; 
assuring her at the same time that it should be nothing which 
she could blush to hear. 

134. On these terms Democedes applied his art, and soon 
cured the abscess ; and Atossa, when she had heard his request, 
spake thus one night to Darius : 

" It seemeth to me strange, my lord, that, with the mighty 
power which is thine, thou sittest idle, and neither makest any 

1 Herodotus, where he mentions no standard, must be regarded as in 
tending the Attic, which was in general use throughout Greece in his own 
day. The salary of Democedes will therefore be: ist year, 60 mince, or 
243 155.; and year, 100 mine*, or 406 55.; 3rd year, 120 mince, or 
487 IDS. 

8 Elis about this time appears to have furnished soothsayers to all 

274 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

conquest, nor advancest the power of the Persians. Methinks 
that one who is so young, and so richly endowed with wealth, 
should perform some noble achievement to prove to the Persians 
that it is a man who governs them. Another reason, too, should 
urge thee to attempt some enterprise. Not only does it befit 
thee to show the Persians that a man rules them, but for thy 
own peace thou shouldest waste their strength in wars lest idle 
ness breed revolt against thy authority. Now, too, whilst thou 
art still young, thou mayest well accomplish some exploit; for 
as the body grows in strength the mind too ripens, and as the 
body ages, the mind s powers decay, till at last it becomes dulled 
to everything." 

So spake Atossa, as Democedes had instructed her. Darius 
answered: " Dear lady, thou hast uttered the very thoughts 
that occupy my brain. I am minded to construct a bridge 
which shall join our continent with the other, and so carry war 
into Scythia. Yet a brief space and all will be accomplished as 
thou desirest." 

But Atossa rejoined : " Look now, this war with Scythia 
were best reserved awhile for the Scythians may be conquered 
at any time. Prithee, lead me thy host first into Greece. I 
long to be served by some of those Lacedaemonian maids of 
whom I have heard so much. I want also Argive, and 
Athenian, and Corinthian women. There is now at the court a 
man who can tell thee better than any one else in the whole 
world whatever thou wouldst know concerning Greece, and 
who might serve thee right well as guide; I mean him who 
performed the cure on thy foot." 

" Dear lady," Darius answered, " since it is thy wish that we 
try first the valour of the Greeks, it were best, methinks, before 
marching against them, to send some Persians to spy out the 
land; they may go in company with the man thou mentionest, 
and when they have seen and learnt all, they can bring us back 
a full report. Then, having a more perfect knowledge of them, 
I will begin the war." 

135. Darius, having so spoke, put no long distance between 
the word and the deed, but as soon as day broke he summoned 
to his presence fifteen Persians of note, and bade them take 
Democedes for their guide, and explore the sea-coasts of Greece. 
Above all, they were to be sure to bring Democedes back with 
them, and not sutler him to run away and escape. After he had 
given these orders, Darius sent for Democedes, and besought 

135-137. Escape of Democedes 275 

him to serve as guide to the Persians, and when he had shown 
them the whole of Greece to come back to Persia. He should 
take, he said, all the valuables he possessed as presents to his 
father and his brothers, and he should receive on his return a 
far more abundant store. Moreover, the king added, he would 
give him, as his contribution towards the presents, a merchant- 
ship laden with all manner of precious things, which should 
accompany him on his voyage. Now I do not believe that 
Darius, when he made these promises, had any guile in Ins 
heart: Democedes, however, who suspected that the king spoke 
to try him, took care not to snatch at the offers with any haste; 
but said, " he would leave his own goods behind to enjoy upon 
his return the merchant-ship which the king proposed to 
grant him to carry gifts to his brothers, that he would accept at 
the king s hands." So when Darius had laid his orders upon 
Democedes, he sent him and the Persians away to the coast. 

136. The men went down to Phoenicia, to Sidon, the Phoeni 
cian town, where straightway they fitted out two triremes and a 
trading-vessel, 1 which they loaded with all manner of precious 
merchandise; and, everything being now ready, they set sail 
for Greece. When they had made the land, they kept along 
the shore and examined it, taking notes of all that they saw; 
and in this way they explored the greater portion of the country, 
and all the most famous regions, until at last they reached 
Tarentum in Italy. There Aristophilides, king of the Taren- 
tines, out of kindness to Democedes, took the rudders off the 
Median ships, and detained their crews as spies. Meanwhile 
Democedes escaped to Crotona, his native city, 2 whereupon 
Aristophilides released the Persians from prison, and gave their 
rudders back to them. 

137. The Persians now quitted Tarentum, and sailed to 
Crotona in pursuit of Democedes; they found him in the 
market-place, where they straightway laid violent hands on 
him. Some of the Crotoniats, who greatly feared the power of 
the Persians, were willing to give him up; but others resisted, 
held Domocedes fast, and even struck the Persians with their 
walking-sticks. They, on their part, kept crying out, " Men of 
Crotona, beware what you do. It is the king s runaway slave 

1 Literally, " a round-built vessel." It may be remarked that the Greek 
writers use yav\os specially, if not solely, for a Phoenician merchant-ship. 

* Crotona was distant about 150 miles along shore from Tarentum 

276 The History of Herodotus BOOK IIL 

that you are rescuing. Think you Darius will tamely submit to 
such an insult ? Think you, that if you carry off the man from 
us, it will hereafter go well with you? Will you not rather be 
the first persons on whom we shall make war? Will not your 
city be the first we shall seek to lead away captive? " Thus 
they spake, but the Crotoniats did not heed them ; they rescued 
Democedes, and seized also the trading-ship which the Persians 
had brought with them from Phoenicia. Thus robbed, and 
bereft of their guide, the Persians gave up all hope of exploring 
the rest of Greece, and set sail for Asia. As they were depart 
ing, Democedes sent to them and begged they would inform 
Darius that the daughter of Milo was affianced to him as his 
bride. For the name of Milo the wrestler was in high repute 
with the king. 1 My belief is, that Democedes hastened his 
marriage by the payment of a large sum of money for the 
purpose of showing Darius that he was a man of mark in his 
own country. 

138. The Persians weighed anchor and left Crotona, but, being 
wrecked on the coast of lapygia, 2 were made slaves by the in 
habitants. From this condition they were rescued by Gillus, 
a banished Tarentine, who ransomed them at his own cost, and 
took them back to Darius. Darius offered to repay this service 
by granting Gillus whatever boon he chose to ask; whereupon 
Gillus told the king of his misfortune, and begged to be restored 
to his country. Fearing, however, that he might bring trouble 
on Greece if a vast armament were sent to Italy on his account, 
he added that it would content him if the Cnidians undertook 
to obtain his recall. Now the Cnidians were close friends of the 
Tarentines, which made him think there was no likelier means 
of procuring his return. Darius promised and performed his 
part; for he sent a messenger to Cnidus, and commanded the 
Cnidians to restore Gillus. The Cnidians did as he wished, but 
found themselves unable to persuade the Tarentines, and were 
too weak to attempt force. Such then was the course which 
this matter took. These were the first Persians who ever came 
from Asia to Greece ; 3 and they were sent to spy out the land 
for the reason which I have before mentioned. 

1 Milo is said to have carried off the prize for wrestling, six times at the 
Olympic, and seven times at the Pythian, games. Grote remarks with 
justice that gigantic muscular force " would be appreciated in Persia 
much more than intellectual ability. 

*The lapygian promontory (Capo di Leuca) was always difficult to double. 

* Compare the conclusion of ch. 56. In the mind of Herodotus this 

CHAP. 138-140. Syloson and His Cloak 277 

139. After this, king Darius besieged and took Samos, which 
was the first city, Greek or Barbarian, that he conquered. The 
cause of his making war upon Samos was the following: At 
the time when Cambyses, son of Cyrus, marched against Egypt, 
vast numbers of Greeks flocked thither; some, as might have 
been looked for, to push their trade ; others, to serve in his army j 
others again, merely to see the land: among these last was 
Syloson, son of ^Eaces, and brother of Polycrates, at that time an 
exile from Samos. 1 This Syloson, during his stay in Egypt, met 
with a singular piece of good fortune. He happened one day to 
put on a scarlet cloak, and thus attired to go into the market 
place at Memphis, when Darius, who was one of Cambyses body 
guard, and not at that time a man of any account, 2 saw him, and 
taking a strong liking to the dress, went up and offered to pur 
chase it. Syloson perceived how anxious he was, and by a 
lucky inspiration answered : There is no price at which I 
would sell my cloak; but I will give it thee for nothing, if it 
must needs be thine." Darius thanked him, and accepted the 

140. Poor Syloson felt at the time that he had fooled away 
his cloak in a very simple manner ; but afterwards, when in the 
course of years Cambyses died, and the seven Persians rose in 
revolt against the Magus, and Darius was the man chosen out of 
the seven to have the kingdom, Syloson learnt that the person 
to whom the crown had come was the very man who had coveted 
his cloak in Egypt, and to whom he had freely given it. So he 
made his way to Susa, and seating himself at the portal of the 
royal palace, gave out that he was a benefactor of the king. 3 
Then the doorkeeper went and told Darius. Amazed at what 
he heard, the king said thus within himself: " What Greek can 
have been my benefactor, or to which of them do I owe any 
thing, so lately as I have got the kingdom? Scarcely a man of 
them all has been here, not more than one or two certainly, 
since I came to the throne. Nor do I remember that I am in 
the debt of any Greek. However, bring him in, and let me 
hear what he means by his boast." So the doorkeeper ushered 

voyage is of the greatest importance. It is the first step towards the in 
vasion of Greece, and so a chief link in the chain of his History. Whether 
Darius attached much importance to it is a different matter. 

1 Vide supra, ch. 39. 

1 This could not be true, yet it is a necessary feature in the story. 

8 The king s benefactors were a body of persons whose names were 
formally enregistered in the royal archives (vide infra, viii. 85). Syloson 
makes a claim to be put on this list. 

278 The History of Herodotus BOOK m 

Syloson into the presence, and the interpreters asked him who 
he was, and what he had done that he should call himself 
a benefactor of the king. Then Syloson told the whole story 
of the cloak, and said that it was he who had made Darius 
the present. Hereupon Darius exclaimed, " Oh 1 thou most 
generous of men, art thou indeed he who, when I had no power 
at all, gavest me something, albeit little? Truly the favour is 
as great as a very grand present would be nowadays. I will 
therefore give thee in return gold and silver without stint, that 
thou mayest never repent of having rendered a service to 
Darius, son of Hystaspes." " Give me not, O king," replied 
Syloson, either silver or gold, but recover me Samos, my 
native land, and let that be thy gift to me. It belongs now to a 
slave of ours, who, when Orcetes put my brother Polycrates to 
death, became its master. Give me Samos, I beg; but give it 
unharmed, with no bloodshed no leading into captivity." 

141. When he heard this, Darius sent off an army, under 
Otanes, one of the seven, with orders to accomplish all that 
Syloson had desired. And Otanes went down to the coast and 
made ready to cross over. 

142. The government of Samos was held at this time by 
Maeandrius, son of Mseandrius, 1 whom Polycrates had appointed 
as his deputy. This person conceived the wish to act like the 
justest of men, but it was not allowed him to do so. On receiving 
tidings of the death of Polycrates, he forthwith raised an altar 
to Jove the Protector of Freedom, and assigned it the piece of 
ground which may still be seen in the suburb. This done, he 
assembled all the citizens, and spoke to them as follows : 

" Ye know, friends, that the sceptre of Polycrates, and all his 
power, has passed into my hands, and if I choose I may rule 
over you. But what I condemn in another I will, if I may, 
avoid myself. I never approved the ambition of Polycrates to 
lord it over men as good as himself, nor looked with favour on 
any of those who have done the like. Now therefore, since he 
has fulfilled his destiny, I lay down my office, and proclaim 
equal rights. All that I claim in return is six talents from the 
treasures of Polycrates, and the priesthood of Jove the Pro 
tector of Freedom, for myself and my descendants for ever. 
Allow me this, as the man by whom his temple has been built, 
and by whom ye yourselves are now restored to liberty." As 
soon as Maeandrius had ended, one of the Samians rose up and 

1 Vide supra, ch. 123. 

CHAP. 141-145. Maeandrius 279 

said, " As if thou wert fit to rule us, base-born l and rascal as 
thou art ! Think rather of accounting for the monies which 
thou hast fingered." 

143. The man who thus spoke was a certain Telesarchus, one 
of the leading citizens. Maeandrius, therefore, feeling sure that 
if he laid down the sovereign power some one else would become 
tyrant in his room, gave up the thought of relinquishing it. 
Withdrawing to the citadel, he sent for the chief men one by 
one, under pretence of showing them his accounts, and as fast 
as they came arrested them and put them in irons. So these 
men were bound; and Moeandrius within a short time fell sick: 
whereupon Lycaretus, 2 one of his brothers, thinking that he 
was going to die, and wishing to make his own accession to the 
throne the easier, slew all the prisoners. It seemed that the 
Samians did not choose to be a free people. 

144. When the Persians whose business it was to restore 
Syloson reached Samos, not a man was found to lift up his hand 
against them. Maeandrius and his partisans expressed them 
selves willing to quit the island upon certain terms, and these 
terms were agreed to by Otanes. After the treaty was made, 
the most distinguished of the Persians had their thrones 3 
brought, and seated themselves over against the citadel. 

145. Now the king Maeandrius had a lightheaded brother 
Charilaiis by name whom for some offence or other he had 
shut up in prison: this man heard what was going on, and 
peering through his bars, saw the Persians sitting peacefully 
upon their seats, whereupon he exclaimed aloud, and said he 
must speak with Maeandrius. When this was reported to him, 
Maeandrius gave orders that Charilaiis should be released from 
prison and brought into his presence. No sooner did he arrive 
than he began reviling and abusing his brother, and strove to 
persuade him to attack the Persians. " Thou meanest-spirited 
of men," he said, thou canst keep me, thy brother, chained in 
a dungeon, notwithstanding that I have done nothing worthy 
of bonds; but when the Persians come and drive thee forth a 
houseless wanderer from thy native land, thou lookest on, and 

1 Maeandrius had been the secretary (ypawar terras) of Polycrates 
(supra, ch. 123), which would indicate a humble origin. 

For the ultimate fate of Lycaretus, see below, Book v. ch. 27. 
For a representation of the Persian throne, see note on Book vii. ch. 15. 
Darius is mentioned as sitting upon a throne at the siege of Babylon (infra, 
ch. 155), and Xerxss at Thermopylae (vii. 211, ad fin.), and Salamis (viiL 
90). So Sennacherib is represented in the Assyrian sculptures. 

4<>5 # 

280 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

hast not the heart to seek revenge, though they might so easily 
be subdued. If thou, however, art afraid, lend me thy soldiers, 
and I will make them pay dearly for their coming here. I 
engage too to send thee first safe out of the island." 

146. So spake Charilaiis, and Maeandrius gave consent; not 
(I believe) that he was so void of sense as to imagine that his 
own forces could overcome those of the king, but because he was 
jealous of Syloson, and did not wish him to get so quietly an 
unharmed city. He desired therefore to rouse the anger of the 
Persians against Samos, that so he might deliver it up to Syloson 
with its power at the lowest possible ebb ; for he knew well that 
if the Persians met with a disaster they would be furious against 
the Samians, while he himself felt secure of a retreat at any 
time that he liked, since he had a secret passage under ground l 
leading from the citadel to the sea. Maeandrius accordingly 
took ship and sailed away from Samos; and Charilaiis, having 
armed all the mercenaries, threw open the gates, and fell upon 
the Persians, who looked for nothing less, since they supposed 
that the whole matter had been arranged by treaty. At the 
first onslaught therefore all the Persians of most note, men who 
were in the habit of using litters, were slain by the mercenaries ; 
the rest of the army, however, came to the rescue, defeated the 
mercenaries, and drove them back into the citadel. 

147. Then Otanes, the general, when he saw the great 
calamity which had befallen the Persians, made up his mind to 
forget the orders which Darius had given him, * not to kill or 
enslave a single Samian, but to deliver up the island unharmed 
to Syloson," and gave the word to his army that they should 
slay the Samians, both men and boys, wherever they could find 
them. Upon this some of his troops laid siege to the citadel, 
while others began the massacre, killing all they met, some out 
side, some inside the temples. 

148. Maeandrius fled from Samos to Lacedaemon, and con 
veyed thither all the riches which he had brought away from the 
island, after which he acted as follows. Having placed upon his 
board all the gold and silver vessels that he had, and bade his 
servants employ themselves in cleaning them, he himself went 
and entered into conversation with Cleomenes, son of Anaxan- 
dridas, king of Sparta, and as they talked brought him along to 

1 That the art of tunnelling was known at Samos is evident from what 
is said above fch. 60), and from the remains which have been found in the 

CHAP. 146-151. Babylon Besieged 281 

his house. There Cleomenes, seeing the plate, was filled with 
wonder and astonishment; whereon the other begged that he 
would carry home with him any of the vessels that he liked. 
Maeandrius said this two or three times; but Cleomenes here 
displayed surpassing honesty. 1 He refused the gift, and think 
ing that if Maeandrius made the same offers to others he would 
get the aid he sought, the Spartan king went straight to the 
ephors and told them " it would be best for Sparta that the 
Samian stranger should be sent away from the Peloponnese ; for 
otherwise he might perchance persuade himself or some other 
Spartan to be base/ 3 The ephors took his advice, and let 
Maeandrius know by a herald that he must leave the city. 

149. Meanwhile the Persians netted 2 Samos, and delivered it 
up to Syloson, stripped of all its men. After some time, how 
ever, this same general Otanes was induced to repeople it by a 
dream which he had, and a loathsome disease that seized on him, 

150. After the armament of Otanes had set sail for Samos, 
the Babylonians revolted, 3 having made every preparation for 
defence. During all the time that the Magus was king, and 
while the seven were conspiring, they had profited by the 
troubles, and had made themselves ready against a siege. And 
it happened somehow or other that no one perceived what they 
were doing. At last when the time came for rebelling openly, 
they did as follows: having first set apart their mothers, each 
man chose besides out of his whole household one woman, whom 
soever he pleased; these alone were allowed to live, while all 
the rest were brought to one place and strangled. The women 
chosen were kept to make bread for the men; 4 while the others 
were strangled that they might not consume the stores. 

151. When tidings reached Darius of what had happened, he 
drew together all his power, and began the war by marching 
straight upon Babylon, and laying siege to the place. The 

1 It was rarely that the Spartan kings, or indeed their other leaders, 
could resist a bribe. 

*For the description of this process see below, Book vi. ch. 31. Samos 
does not appear to have suffered very greatly by these transactions, since 
in the Ionian revolt, not twenty years afterwards, she was able to furnish 
sixty ships (vi. 8). The severities exercised by the Persians are probably 

* It has been already mentioned that Babylon revolted twice from 
Darius, once in the first, and a second time in the fourth year of his reign. 
It cannot be determined which of these two revolts Herodotus intended to 

4 The " bread- maker ** had not merely to mix and bake the bread, but 
to grind the flour. (Cf. Exodus xi. 5; Matt. xxiv. 41.) 

282 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

Babylonians, however, cared not a whit for his siege. 1 Mount 
ing upon the battlements that crowned their walls, they in 
sulted and jeered at Darius and his mighty host. One even 
shouted to them and said, " Why sit ye there, Persians ? why 
do ye not go back to your homes? Till mules foal ye will not 
take our city." This was said by a Babylonian who thought 
that a mule would never foal. 

152. Now when a year and seven months had passed, Darius 
and his army were quite wearied out, finding that they could 
not anyhow take the city. All stratagems and all arts had been 
used, and yet the king could not prevail not even when he 
tried the means by which Cyrus made himself master of the 
place. The Babylonians were ever upon the watch, and he 
found no way of conquering them. 

153. At last, in the twentieth month, a marvellous thing 
happened to Zopyrus, son of the Megabyzus who was among 
the seven men that overthrew the Magus. One of his sumpter- 
mules gave birth to a foal. Zopyrus, when they told him, not 
thinking that it could be true, went and saw the colt with his 
own eyes ; after which he commanded his servants to tell no one 
what had come to pass, while he himself pondered the matter. 
Calling to mind then the words of the Babylonian at the begin 
ning of the siege, " Till mules foal ye shall not take our city " 
he thought, as he reflected on this speech, that Babylon might 
now be taken. For it seemed to him that there was a divine 
providence in the man having used the phrase, and then his 
mule having foaled. 

154. As soon therefore as he felt within himself that Babylon 
was fated to be taken, he went to Darius and asked him if he 
set a very high value on its conquest. When he found that 
Darius did indeed value it highly, he considered further with 
himself how he might make the deed his own, and be the man 
to take Babylon. Noble exploits in Persia are ever highly 
honoured and bring their authors to greatness. He therefore 
reviewed all ways of bringing the city under, but found none by 
which he could hope to prevail, unless he maimed himself and 
then went over to the enemy. To do this seeming to him a 
light matter, he mutilated himself in a way that was utterly 
without remedy. For he cut off his own nose and ears, and 
then, clipping his hair close arid flogging himself with a scourge, 
he came in this plight before Darius. 

1 Compare thek confidence when besieged by Cyrus (supra, i. 190). 

CHAP. 152-156. Zopyrus Project 283 

155. Wrath stirred within the king at the sight of a man of 
his lofty rank in such a condition; leaping down from his throne, 
he exclaimed aloud, and asked Zopyrus who it was that had dis 
figured him, and what he had done to be so treated. Zopyrus 
answered, " There is not a man in the world, but thou, O king, 
that could reduce me to such a plight no stranger s hands have 
wrought this work on me, but my own only. I maimed myself 
because I could not endure that the Assyrians should laugh at 
the Persians. 3 " Wretched man," said Darius, " thou coverest 
the foulest deed with the fairest possible name, when thou 
sayest thy maiming is to help our siege forward. How will thy 
disfigurement, thou simpleton, induce the enemy to yield one 
day the sooner? Surely thou hadst gone out of thy mind when 
thou didst so misuse thyself." " Had I told thee," rejoined the 
other, " what I was bent on doing, thou wouldest not have 
suffered it; as it is, I kept my own counsel, and so accom 
plished my plans. Now, therefore, if there be no failure on thy 
part, we shall take Babylon. I will desert to the enemy as I am, 
and when I get into their city I will tell them that it is by thee 
I have been thus treated. I think they will believe my words, 
and entrust me with a command of troops. Thou, on thy part, 
must wait till the tenth day after I am entered within the town, 
and then place near to the gates of Semiramis a detachment of 
thy army, troops for whose loss thou wilt care little, a thousand 
men. Wait, after that, seven days, and post me another detach 
ment, two thousand strong, at the Nineveh gates; then let 
twenty days pass, and at the end of that time station near the 
Chaldaean gates a body of four thousand. Let neither these nor 
the former troops be armed with any weapons but their swords 
those thou mayest leave them. After the twenty days are over, 
bid thy whole army attack the city on every side, and put me 
two bodies of Persians, one at the Belian, the other at the Cissian 
gates ; for I expect, that, on account of my successes, the Baby 
lonians will entrust everything, even the keys of their gates, 1 to 
me. Then it will be for me and my Persians to do the rest." 2 

156. Having left these instructions, Zopyrus fled towards the 
gates of the town, often looking back, to give himself the air of 

1 Properly " bolt- drawers," which were very like those now used in the 
East a straight piece of wood, with upright pins, corresponding with 
those that fall down into the bolt, and which are pushed up by this key 
so as to enable the bolt to be drawn back. 

8 The stratagem of Zopyrus has small claims to be considered an historic 

284 The History of Herodotus BOOK m. 

a deserter. The men upon the towers, whose business it was to 
keep a look-out, observing him, hastened down, and setting one 
of the gates slightly ajar, questioned him who he was, and on 
what errand he had come. He replied that he was Zopyrus, and 
had deserted to them from the Persians. Then the doorkeepers, 
when they heard this, carried him at once before the Magis 
trates. Introduced into the assembly, he began to bewail his 
misfortunes, telling them that Darius had maltreated him in the 
way they could see, only because he had given advice that the 
siege should be raised, since there seemed no hope of taking the 
city. t And now," he went on to say, " my coming to you, 
Babylonians, will prove the greatest gain that you could possibly 
receive, while to Darius and the Persians it will be the severest 
loss. Verily he by whom I have been so mutilated shall not 
escape unpunished. And truly all the paths of his counsels are 
known to me/ Thus did Zopyrus speak. 

157. The Babylonians, seeing a Persian of such exalted rank 
in so grievous a plight, his nose and ears cut off, his body red 
with marks of scourging and with blood, had no suspicion but 
that he spoke the truth, and was really come to be their friend 
and helper. They were ready, therefore, to grant him anything 
that he asked ; and on his suing for a command, they entrusted 
to him a body of troops, with the help of which he proceeded to 
do as he had arranged with Darius. On the tenth day after his 
flight he led out his detachment, and surrounding the thousand 
men, whom Darius according to agreement had sent first, he fell 
upon them and slew them all. Then the Babylonians, seeing 
that his deeds were as brave as his words, were beyond measure 
pleased, and set no bounds to their trust. He waited, however, 
and when the next period agreed on had elapsed, again with a 
band of picked men he sallied forth, and slaughtered the two 
thousand. After this second exploit, his praise was in all 
mouths. Once more, however, he waited till the interval 
appointed had gone by, and then leading the troops to the place 
where the four thousand were, he put them also to the sword. 
This last victory gave the finishing stroke to his power, and 
made him all in all with the Babylonians: accordingly they 
committed to him the command of their whole army, and put 
the keys of their city into his hands. 

158. Darius now, still keeping to the plan agreed upon, 
attacked the walls on every side, whereupon Zopyrus played out 
the remainder of his stratagem. While the Babylonians, crowd. 

CHAP. 157-160. Babylon Taken 285 

ing to the walls, did their best to resist the Persian assault, he 
threw open the Cissian and the Belian gates, and admitted the 
enemy. Such of the Babylonians as witnessed the treachery, 
took refuge in the temple of Jupiter Belus; 1 the rest, who did 
not see it, kept at their posts, till at last they too learnt that 
they were betrayed. 

159. Thus was Babylon taken for the second 2 time. Darius 
having become master of the place, destroyed the wall, 3 and 
tore down all the gates; for Cyrus had done neither the one 
nor the other when he took Babylon. He then chose out near 
three thousand of the leading citizens, and caused them to be 
crucified, while he allowed the remainder still to inhabit the 
city. Further, wishing to prevent the race of the Babylonians 
from becoming extinct, he provided wives for them in the room 
of those whom (as I explained before) they strangled, to save 
their stores. These he levied from the nations bordering on 
Babylonia, who were each required to send so large a number to 
Babylon, that in all there were collected no fewer than fifty 
thousand. It is from these women that the Babylonians of our 
times are sprung. 

1 60. As for Zopyrus, he was considered by Darius to have 
surpassed, in the greatness of his achievements, all other 
PersiaM, whether of former or of later times, except only Cyrus 
with whom no Persian ever yet thought himself worthy to 
compare. Darius, as the story goes, would often say that " he 
had rather Zopyrus were unmaimed, than be master of twenty 
more Babylons." And he honoured Zopyrus greatly; year by 
year he presented him with all the gifts which are held in most 
esteem among the Persians ; 4 he gave him likewise the govern 
ment of Babylon for his life, free from tribute; and he also 

1 [Belus (Bel) was the name of the sun-god worshipped by the Babylonians. 
The city-god of Babylon was Marduk; but, as that city became the capital 
of the country, he became identified with Bel (cf. Baal), the lord." 
Cf. Sayce, The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, p. 267. E. H. B.] 

1 [The first capture, by Cyrus, is described in Book i. chs. 190, 191. 
E. H. B.] 

* It is probable that Darius contented himself with breaking breaches 
in the great wall, instead of undertaking the enormous and useless labour 
of levelling the immense mounds which begirt Babylon. The walls must 
have been tolerably complete when Babylon stood a siege against the 
forces of Xerxes. Even in the time of Herodotus, so much was left that 
he could speak of the wall as still encircling the city (i. 178). 

4 Ctesias mentioned as the chief of these presents a golden hand-mill, 
weighing six talents, and worth somewhat more than 3000. This, accord 
ing to him, was the most honourable gift that a Persian subject could 

286 The History of Herodotus BOOK in. 

granted him many other favours. Megabyzus, who held the 
command in Egypt against the Athenians and their allies, 1 was 
a son of this Zopyrus. And Zopyrus, who fled from Persia to 
Athens, 2 was a son of this Megabyzus. 

1 Megabyzus married Amytis, daughter of Xerxes, was one of the six 
superior generals of the Persian army in the Greek campaign, drove the 
Athenians out of Egypt, and put down the Egyptian revolt; revolted 
himself against Artaxerxes for not observing the terms granted to Inarus, 
was reconciled with him, and died in Persia at an advanced age. 

1 This is probably the latest event recorded by Herodotus. It is men 
tioned by Ctesias almost immediately before the death of Artaxerxes, and 
so belongs most likely to the year B.C. 426 or 425. 


With the capture of Babylon by Cyrus, the history of the Babylonians 
as an independent nation came to an end. Henceforth it became a province 
subject to the various powers which succeeded one another in the hegemony 
of western Asia. Under Cambyses, and still more under Darius Hystaspis, 
there were many manifestations of discontent, which broke out into open 
revolt soon after the accession of the latter king. A similar revolt took 
place in Xerxes reign; but both these insurrectionary movements were 
stamped out. The people of Babylonia were, as a whole, content to serve 
their foreign masters. The country remained subject to Persian domina 
tion until the conquests of Alexander the Great brought it under Greek 
control; this subsequently giving way to Parthian supremacy. The im 
poverishment of the country, in these later days, led to the gradual 
extinction of the great priestly tradition which had so long maintained 
itself. The knowledge of the ancient writings and speech was gradually 
lost, and not recovered till the epoch- marking discoveries of Sir Henry 
Rawlinson and other scholars in the middle of the nineteenth century. 
But now every year sees fresh light thrown upon the history and religion 
of a once mighty, and long- forgotten, empire. And the end is not yet. 


i. AFTER the taking of Babylon, an expedition was led by 
Darius into Scythia. Asia abounding in men, and vast sums 
flowing into the treasury, the desire seized him to exact 
vengeance from the Scyths, who had once in days gone by 
invaded Media, defeated those who met them in the field, and 
so begun the quarrel. During the space of eight-and-twenty 
years, as I have before mentioned, 1 the Scyths continued lords 
of the whole of Upper Asia. They entered Asia in pursuit of 
the Cimmerians, and overthrew the empire of the Medes, who 
till they came possessed the sovereignty. On their return to 
their homes after the long absence of twenty-eight years, a task 
awaited them little less troublesome than their struggle with 
the Medes. They found an army of no small size prepared to 
oppose their entrance. For the Scythian women, when they 
saw that time went on, and their husbands did not come back, 
had intermarried with their slaves. 

2. Now the Scythians blind all their slaves, to use them in 
preparing their milk. The plan they follow is to thrust tubes 
made of bone, not unlike our musical pipes, up the vulva of the 
mare, 2 and then to blow into the tubes with their mouths, some 
milking while the others blow. They say that they do this 
because when the veins of the animal are full of air, the udder 
is forced down. The milk thus obtained is poured into deep 
wooden casks, about which the blind slaves are placed, and then 
the milk is stirred round. 3 That which rises to the top is drawn 
off, and considered the best part; the under portion is of less 
account. Such is the reason why the Scythians blind all those 
whom they take in war; it arises from their not being tillers of 
the ground, but a pastoral race. 

3. When therefore the children sprung from these slaves and 

1 Vide supra, i. 103-106. 

Mares milk constituted the chief food of the ancient Scythians. It 
is still the principal support of the Calmuck hordes which wander over the 
vast steppes north and west of the Caspian. 

1 It is apparent from this circumstance that it was koumiss, and not 
cream, on which the Scythians lived. Koumiss is still prepared from 
mares milk by the Calmucks. 


288 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

the Scythian women grew to manhood, and understood the 
circumstances of their birth, they resolved to oppose the army 
which was returning from Media. And, first of all, they cut off 
a tract of country from the rest of Scythia by digging a broad 
dyke l from the Tauric mountains to the vast lake of the Mseotis. 
Afterwards, when the Scythians tried to force an entrance, they 
marched out and engaged them. Many battles were fought, 
and the Scythians gained no advantage, until at last one of 
them thus addressed the remainder: " What are we doing, 
Scythians? We are fighting our slaves, diminishing our own 
number when we fall, and the number of those that belong 
to us when they fall by our hands. Take my advice lay 
spear and bow aside, 2 and let each man fetch his horsewhip, 3 
and go boldly up to them. So long as they see us with arms 
in our hands, they imagine themselves our equals in birth and 
bravery ; but let them behold us with no other weapon but the 
whip, and they will feel that they are our slaves, and flee before 


4. The Scythians followed this counsel, and the slaves were 
so astounded, that they forgot to fight, and immediately ran 
away. Such was the mode in which the Scythians, after being 
for a time the lords of Asia, and being forced to quit it by the 
Medes, returned and settled in their own country. This inroad 
of theirs it was that Darius was anxious to avenge, and such was 
the purpose for which he was now collecting an army to invade 

5. According to the account which the Scythians themselves 
give, they are the youngest of all nations. 4 Their tradition is 
as follows. A certain Targitaiis was the first man who ever 
lived in their country, which before his time was a desert without 
inhabitants. He was a child I do not believe the tale, but it 
is told nevertheless of Jove and a daughter of the Borysthenes. 
Targitaiis, thus descended, begat three sons, Leipoxais, Arpoxais, 
and Colaxais, who was the youngest born of the three. While 
they still ruled the land, there fell from the sky four implements, 

1 On the position of this dyke, vide infra, ch. 20. 

The spear and the bow were the national weapons of the European 
Scyths, the bow on the whole being regarded as the more essential. The 
spear used was short, apparently not more than five feet in length. 

* The ancient Scythian whip seems to have closely resembled the nogaik 
of the modern Cossacks. 

4 We must understand by the Scyths of Herodotus in this place, the 
single nation of Europeau Scyths with which the Greeks of the Pontus 
were acquainted. 

CHAP. 4-8. Origin of Scyths 289 

all of gold, a plough, a yoke, a battle-axe, and a drinking-cup. 
The eldest of the brothers perceived them first, and approached 
to pick them up ; when lo I as he came near, the gold took fire, 
and blazed. He therefore went his way, and the second coming 
forward made the attempt, but the same thing happened again. 
The gold rejected both the eldest and the second brother. Last 
of all the youngest brother approached, and immediately the 
flames were extinguished ; so he picked up the gold, and carried 
it to his home. Then the two elder agreed together, and made 
the whole kingdom over to the youngest born. 

6. From Leipoxais sprang the Scythians of the race called 
Auchatae; from Arpoxais, the middle brother, those known as 
the Catiari and Traspians; from Colaxais, the youngest, the 
Royal Scythians, or Paralatae. All together they are named 
Scoloti, after one of their kings : the Greeks, however, call them 

7. Such is the account which the Scythians give of their 
origin. They add that from the time of Targitaiis, their first 
king, to the invasion of their country by Darius, is a period of one 
thousand years, neither less nor more. The Royal Scythians 
guard the sacred gold with most especial care, and year by year 
offer great sacrifices in its honour. At this feast, if the man 
who has the custody of the gold should fall asleep in the open 
air, he is sure (the Scythians say) not to outlive the year. His 
pay therefore is as much land as he can ride round on horseback 
in a day. As the extent of Scythia is very great, Colaxais gave 
each of his three sons a separate kingdom, one of which was 
of ampler size than the other two: in this the gold was pre 
served. Above, to the northward of the furthest dwellers in 
Scythia, the country is said to be concealed from sight and 
made impassable by reason of the feathers which are shed 
abroad abundantly. The earth and air are alike full of them, 
and this it is which prevents the eye from obtaining any view of 
the region. 1 

8. Such is the account which the Scythians give of them 
selves, and of the country which lies above them. The Greeks 
who dwell about the Pontus tell a different story. According 
to them, Hercules, when he was carrying off the cows of Geryon, 
arrived in the region which is now inhabited by the Scyths, but 
which was then a desert. Geryon lived outside the Pontus, in 

1 Vide infra, ch. 31, where Herodotus explains that the so-called feathers 
are snow-flakes. 

290 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

an island called by the Greeks Erytheia, 1 near Gades, which is 
beyond the Pillars of Hercules 2 upon the Ocean. Now some 
say that the Ocean begins in the east, and runs the whole way 
round the world ; but they give no proof that this is really so. 
Hercules came from thence into the region now called Scythia, 
and, being overtaken by storm and frost, drew his lion s skin 
about him, and fell fast asleep. While he slept, his mares, which 
he had loosed from his chariot to graze, by some wonderful 
chance disappeared. 

9. On waking, he went in quest of them, and, after wandering 
over the whole country, came at last to the district called " the 
Woodland/ where he found in a cave a strange being, between 
a maiden and a serpent, whose form from the waist upwards 
was like that of a woman, while all below was like a snake. 
He looked at her wonderingly; but nevertheless inquired, 
whether she had chanced to see his strayed mares anywhere. 
She answered him, " Yes, and they were now in her keeping ; 
but never would she consent to give them back, unless he took 
her for his mistress." So Hercules, to get his mares back, 
agreed; but afterwards she put him off and delayed restoring 
the mares, since she wished to keep him with her as long as 
possible. He, on the other hand, was only anxious to secure 
them and to get away. At last, when she gave them up, she 
said to him, When thy mares strayed hither, it was I who 
saved them for thee: now thou hast paid their salvage; for 
lo! I bear in my womb three sons of thine. Tell me therefore 
when thy sons grow up, what must I do with them? Wouldst 
thou wish that I should settle them here in this land, whereof 
I am mistress, or shall I send them to thee ? Thus questioned, 
they say, Hercules answered, " When the lads have grown to 
manhood, do thus, and assuredly thou wilt not err. Watch 
them, and when thou seest one of them bend this bow as I now 
bend it, and gird himself with this girdle thus, choose him to 
remain in the land. Those who fail in the trial, send away. 
Thus wilt thou at once please thyself and obey me." 

10. Hereupon he strung one of his bows up to that time he 
had carried two and showed her how to fasten the belt. Then 
he gave both bow and belt into her hands. Now the belt had 
a golden goblet attached to its clasp. So after he had given 
them to her, he went his way; and the woman, when her 

1 Cadiz. 

1 By the Pillars of Hercules we must understand the Straits of Gibraltar. 

CHAP. 9-n. Origin of Scyths 29 1 

children grew to manhood, first gave them severally their names. 
One she called Agathyrsus, one Gelonus, and the other, who 
was the youngest, Scythes. Then she remembered the instruc 
tions she had received from Hercules, and, in obedience to his 
orders, she put her sons to the test. Two of them, Agathyrsus 
and Gelonus, proving unequal to the task enjoined, their mother 
sent them out of the land; Scythes, the youngest, succeeded, 
and so he was allowed to remain. From Scythes, the son of 
Hercules, were descended the after kings of Scythia; and 
from the circumstance of the goblet which hung from the 
belt, the Scythians to this day wear goblets at their girdles. 
This was the only thing which the mother of Scythes did for 
him. Such is the tale told by the Greeks who dwell around the 

ii. There is also another different story, now to be related, 
in which I am more inclined to put faith than in any other. It 
is that the wandering Scythians once dwelt in Asia, and there 
warred with the Massagetae, but with ill success ; they therefore 
quitted their homes, crossed the Araxes, 1 and entered the land 
of Cimmeria. For the land which is now inhabited by the 
Scyths was formerly the country of the Cimmerians. 2 On their 
coming, the natives, who heard how numerous the invading 
army was, held a council. At this meeting opinion was divided, 
and both parties stiffly maintained their own view; but the 
counsel of the Royal tribe was the braver. For the others 
urged that the best thing to be done was to leave the country, 
and avoid a contest with so vast a host; but the Royal tribe 
advised remaining and fighting for the soil to the last. As 
neither party chose to give way, the one determined to retire 
without a blow and yield their lands to the invaders; but the 
other, remembering the good things which they had enjoyed in 
their homes, and picturing to themselves the evils which they 
had to expect if they gave them up, resolved not to flee, 
but rather to die and at least be buried in their fatherland. 
Having thus decided, they drew apart in two bodies, the one as 
numerous as the other, and fought together. All of the Royal 
tribe were slain, and the people buried them near the river 
Tyras, where their grave is still to be seen. Then the rest of 
the Cimmerians departed, and the Scythians, on their coming, 
took possession of a deserted land. 

1 It seems impossible that the Araxes can here represent any river but 
the Volga. 

1 Their name is still found in the modern name, Crimea. 

292 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

12. Scythia still retains traces of the Cimmerians; there are 
Cimmerian castles, and a Cimmerian ferry, also a tract called 
Cimmeria, and a Cimmerian Bosphorus. It appears likewise 
that the Cimmerians, when they fled into Asia to escape the 
Scyths, made a settlement in the peninsula where the Greek 
city of Sinope was afterwards built. The Scyths, it is plain, 
pursued them, and missing their road, poured into Media. For 
the Cimmerians kept the line which led along the sea-shore, but 
the Scyths in their pursuit held the Caucasus upon their right, 
thus proceeding inland, and falling upon Media. This account 
is one which is common both to Greeks and barbarians. 

13. Aristeas also, son of Caystrobius, a native of Procon 
nesus, 1 says in the course of his poem that rapt in Bacchic 
fury he went as far as the Issedones. Above them dwelt the 
Arimaspi, men with one eye; still further, the gold-guarding 
Griffins ; 2 and beyond these, the Hyperboreans, who extended 
to the sea. Except the Hyperboreans, all these nations, begin 
ning with the Arimaspi, were continually encroaching upon 
their neighbours. Hence it came to pass that the Arimaspi 
drove the Issedonians from their country, while the Issedonians 
dispossessed the Scyths; and the Scyths, pressing upon the 
Cimmerians, who dwelt on the shores of the Southern Sea, 8 
forced them to leave their land. 4 Thus even Aristeas does not 
agree in his account of this region with the Scythians. 

14. The birthplace of Aristeas, the poet who sung of these 
things, I have already mentioned. I will now relate a tale 
which I heard concerning him both at Proconnesus and at 
Cyzicus. Aristeas, they said, who belonged to one of the noblest 
families in the island, had entered one day into a fuller s shop, 
when he suddenly dropt down dead. Hereupon the fuller shut 
up his shop, and went to tell Aristeas kindred what had 
happened. The report of the death had just spread through 
the town, when a certain Cyzicenian, lately arrived from Artaca, 5 
contradicted the rumour, affirming that he had met Aristeas 

1 Proconnesus is the island now called Marmora, which gives its modern 
appellation to the Propontis (Sea of Marmora). 
Vide supra, iii. 116. 

* That is, the Euxine. 

4 The poem of Aristeas indicated an important general fact, viz., the 
perpetual pressure on one another of the nomadic hordes which from time, 
immemorial have occupied the vast steppes of Central and Northern Asia, 
and of Eastern Europe. 

* The name remains in the modern Erdek, which has taken the place 
of Cyzicus (Bal Kiz), now in ruins, and is the see of an archbishop. 

CHAP. 12-16. Aristeas 293 

on his road to Cyzicus, and had spoken with him. This man, 
therefore, strenuously denied the rumour; the relations, how 
ever, proceeded to the fuller s shop with all things necessary 
for the funeral, intending to carry the body away. But on the 
shop being opened, no Aristeas was found, either dead or alive. 
Seven years afterwards he reappeared, they told me, in Procon- 
nesus, and wrote the poem called by the Greeks " The Arimas- 
peia," after which he disappeared a second time. This is the 
tale current in the two cities above mentioned. 

15. What follows I know to have happened to the Meta- 
pontines of Italy, three hundred and forty years x after the 
second disappearance of Aristeas, as I collect by comparing the 
accounts given me at Proconnesus and Metapontum. 2 Aristeas 
then, as the Metapontines affirm, appeared to them in their own 
country, and ordered them to set up an altar in honour of 
Apollo, and to place near it a statue to be called that of Aristeas 
the Proconnesian. " Apollo," he told them, " had come to 
their country once, though he had visited no other Italiots ; and 
he had been with Apollo at the time, not however in his present 
form, but in the shape of a crow." 3 Having said so much, 
he vanished. Then the Metapontines, as they relate, sent to 
Delphi, and inquired of the god, in what light they were to 
regard the appearance of this ghost of a man. The Pythoness, 
in reply, bade them attend to what the spectre said, " for so it 
would go best with them. 73 Thus advised, they did as they had 
been directed: and there is now a statue bearing the name of 
Aristeas, close by the image of Apollo in the market-place of 
Metapontum, with bay-trees standing around it. But enough 
has been said concerning Aristeas. 

1 6. With regard to the regions which lie above the country 
whereof this portion of my history treats, there is no one who 
possesses any exact knowledge. Not a single person can I find 
who professes to be acquainted with them by actual observation. 
Even Aristeas, the traveller of whom I lately spoke, does not 
claim and he is writing poetry to have reached any farther 
than the Issedonians. What he relates concerning the regions 

1 This date must certainly be wrong. The date usually assigned to 
Aristeas is about B.C. 580. 

* Metapontum (the modern Basiento), was distant about 50 miles from 
Thurii, where Herodotus lived during his later years. 

1 Natural superstition first regarded the croak of the crow or raven as an 
omen; after which it was natural to attach the bird to the God of Prophecy. 
The crow is often called the companion or attendant of Apollo. 

294 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv, 

beyond is, he confesses, mere hearsay, being the account which 
the Issedonians gave him of those countries. However, I shall 
proceed to mention all that I have learnt of these parts by the 
most exact inquiries which I have been able to make concerning 

17. Above the mart of the Borysthenites, which is situated 
in the very centre of the whole sea-coast of Scythia, the first 
people who inhabit the land are the Callipedae, a Grseco-Scythic 
race. Next to them, as you go inland, dwell the people called 
the Alazonians. These two nations in other respects resemble 
the Scythians in their usages, but sow and eat corn, also onions, 
garlic, lentils, and millet. 1 Beyond the Alazonians reside 
Scythian cultivators, who grow corn, not for their own use, but 
for sale. 2 Still higher up are the Neuri. 3 Northwards of the 
Neuri the continent, as far as it is known to us, is uninhabited. 
These are the nations along the course of the river Hypanis, 4 
west of the Borysthenes. 5 

18. Across the Borysthenes, the first country after you leave 
the coast is Hylaea (the Woodland). 6 Above this dwell the 
Scythian Husbandmen, whom the Greeks living near the 
Hypanis call Borysthenites, while they call themselves Olbio- 
polites. These Husbandmen extend eastward a distance of 
three days journey to a river bearing the name of Panticapes, 7 
while northward the country is theirs for eleven days sail up 
the course of the Borysthenes. Further inland there is a vast 
tract which is uninhabited. Above this desolate region dwell 
the Cannibals, who are a people apart, much unlike the 
Scythians. Above them the country becomes an utter desert; 
not a single tribe, so far as we know, inhabits it. 

19. Crossing the Panticapes, and proceeding eastward of the 
Husbandmen, we come upon the wandering Scythians, who 
neither plough nor sow. Their country, and the whole of this 

1 Millet is still largely cultivated in these regions. It forms almost the 
only cereal food of the Nogais. 

*The corn-trade of the Scythians appears to have been chiefly, if not 
exclusively, with the Greeks. 

8 Vide infra, ch. 105. 

* The modern Bug or Boug. 

1 The modern Dnieper. 

Portions of this country are still thickly wooded, and contrast remark 
ably with the general bare and arid character of the steppe. 

7 Here the description of Herodotus, which has been hitherto excellent, 
begins to fail. There is at present no river which at all corresponds with 
his Panticapes. Either the face of the country must have greatly altered 
since his time, or he must have obtained a confused and incorrect account. 

CHAP. 17-22. The Royal Scythians 295 

region, except Hylaea, is quite bare of trees. 1 They extend 
towards the east a distance of fourteen 2 days journey, occupy 
ing a tract which reaches to the river Gerrhus. 3 

20. On the opposite side of the Gerrhus is the Royal district, 
as it is called: here dwells the largest and bravest of the 
Scythian tribes, which looks upon all the other tribes in the 
light of slaves. 4 Its country reaches on the south to Taurica, 6 
on the east to the trench dug by the sons of the blind slaves, 
the mart upon the Palus Mseotis, called Cremni (the Cliffs), and 
in part to the river Tanais. 6 North of the country of the Royal 
Scythians are the Melanchlseni (Black-Robes), 7 a people of 
quite a different race from the Scythians. Beyond them lie 
marshes and a region without inhabitants, so far as our know 
ledge reaches. 

21. When one crosses the Tanais, one is no longer in Scythia; 
the first region on crossing is that of the Sauromatae, 8 who, 
beginning at the upper end of the Palus Maeotis, stretch north 
ward a distance of fifteen days journey, inhabiting a country 
which is entirely bare of trees, whether wild or cultivated. 9 
Above them, possessing the second region, dwell the Budini, 1( 
whose territory is thickly wooded with trees of every kind. 

22. Beyond the Budini, as one goes northward, first there is a 
desert, seven days journey across; after which, if one inclines 
somewhat to the east, the Thyssagetse are reached, a numerous 
nation quite distinct from any other, and living by the chace. 
Adjoining them, and within the limits of the same region, are 
the people who bear the name of lyrcse; they also support 
themselves by hunting, which they practise in the following 
manner. The hunter climbs a tree, the whole country abound 
ing in wood, and there sets himself in ambush; he has a dog at 
hand, and a horse, trained to lie down upon its belly, and thus 
make itself low; the hunter keeps watch, and when he sees his 

The general treeless character of the steppes is noticed by all travellers. 

1 Rennell proposes to read " four days journey " and indeed without 
some such alteration the geography of this part of Scythia is utterly in 

Vide infra, ch. 56. 

4 The analogous case of the Golden Horde among the Mongols has been 
adduced by many writers. 

* Taurica appears here to be nothing but the high tract along the southern 
coast of the Crimea. 

J Now the Don. * Vide infra, ch. 107. $ Vide infra, ch. no. 

The ancient country of the Sauromatae or Sarmatae (Sarmatians) appear* 
to have been nearly identical with that of the modern Don Cossacks. 

Vide infra, ch. 108. 

296 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

game, lets fly an arrow; then mounting his horse, he gives the 
beast chace, his dog following hard all the while. Beyond these 
people, a little to the east, dwells a distinct tribe of Scyths, who 
revolted once from the Royal Scythians, and migrated into these 

23. As far as their country, the tract of land whereof I have 
been speaking is all a smooth plain, and the soil deep; beyond 
you enter on a region which is rugged and stony. Passing over a 
great extent of this rough country, you come to a people dwell 
ing at the foot of lofty mountains, 1 who are said to be all both 
men and women bald from their birth, to have flat noses, and 
very long chins. These people speak a language of their own, 
but the dress which they wear is the same as the Scythian. 
They live on the fruit of a certain tree, the name of which is 
Ponticum ; 2 in size it is about equal to our fig-tree, and it bears 
a fruit like a bean, with a stone inside. When the fruit is ripe, 
they strain it through cloths; the juice which runs off is black 
and thick, and is called by the natives " aschy." They lap this 
up with their tongues, and also mix it with milk for a drink; 
while they make the lees, which are solid, into cakes, and eat 
them instead of meat; for they have but few sheep in their 
country, in which there is no good pasturage. Each of them 
dwells under a tree, and they cover the tree in winter with 
a cloth of thick white felt, but take off the covering in the 
summer-time. No one harms these people, for they are looked 
upon as sacred, they do not even possess any warlike weapons. 
When their neighbours fall out, they make up the quarrel; and 
when one flies to them for refuge, he is safe from all hurt. They 
are called the Argippaeans. 

24. Up to this point the territory of which we are speaking 
is very completely explored, and all the nations between the 
coast and the bald-headed men are well known to us. For 
some of the Scythians are accustomed to penetrate as far, of 
whom inquiry may easily be made, and Greeks also go there 
from the mart on the Borysthenes, and from the other marts 
along the Euxine. The Scythians who make this journey com 
municate with the inhabitants by means of seven interpreters 
and seven languages. 

25. Thus far therefore the land is known; but beyond the 

1 The chain of the Ural. 

1 A species of cherry, which is eaten by the Calmucks of the present dav 
in almost the same manner. 

23-28. The Issedonians 297 

bald-headed men lies a region of which no one can give any 
exact account. Lofty and precipitous mountains, which are 
never crossed, bar further progress. 1 The bald men say, but it 
does not seem to me credible, that the people who live in these 
mountains have feet like goats ; and that after passing them you 
find another race of men, who sleep during one half of the year. 
This latter statement appears to me quite unworthy of credit. 
The region east of the bald-headed men is well known to be 
inhabited by the Issedonians, but the tract that lies to the north 
of these two nations is entirely unknown, except by the accounts 
which they give of it. 

26. The Issedonians are said to have the following customs. 
When a man s father dies, all the near relatives bring sheep to 
the house; which are sacrificed, and their flesh cut in pieces, 
while at the same time the dead body undergoes the like treat 
ment. The two sorts of flesh are afterwards mixed together, 
and the whole is served up at a banquet. The head of the dead 
man is treated differently : it is stripped bare, cleansed, and set 
in gold. 2 It then becomes an ornament on which they pride 
themselves, and is brought out year by year at the great festival 
which sons keep in honour of their fathers death, just as the 
Greeks keep their Genesia. In other respects the Issedonians 
are reputed to be observers of justice: and it is to be remarked 
that their women have equal authority with the men. 3 Thus 
our knowledge extends as far as this nation. 

27. The regions beyond are known only from the accounts of 
the Issedonians, by whom the stories are told of the one-eyed 
race of men and the gold-guarding griffins. These stories are 
received by the Scythians from the Issedonians, and by them 
passed on to us Greeks: whence it arises that we give the one- 
eyed race the Scythian name of Arimaspi, " arima being the 
Scythic word for " one," and " spu " for " the eye." 

28. The whole district whereof we have here discoursed has 
winters of exceeding rigour. During eight months the frost is 
so intense that water poured upon the ground does not form 

1 Heeren considers the mountains here spoken of to be the Altai; but to 
me it seems that Herodotus in these chapters speaks only of a single 
mountain- chain, and that is the Ural. 

Compare the Scythian custom with respect to the skulls of enemies 
(infra, ch. 65). A similar practice to theirs is ascribed by Livy to the Boii, 
a tribe of Gauls (xxiii. 24). 

And among the Nairs of Malabar the institutions all incline to a 
gynocracy, each woman having several husbands, and property passing 
through the female line in preference to the male. 

298 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

mud, but if a fire be lighted on it mud is produced. The sea 
freezes, and the Cimmerian Bosphorus is frozen over. At that 
season the Scythians who dwell inside the trench make warlike 
expeditions upon the ice, and even drive their waggons across 
to the country of the Sindians. Such is the intensity of the 
cold during eight months out of the twelve; and even in the 
remaining four the climate is still cool. 1 The character of the 
winter likewise is unlike that of the same season in any other 
country; for at that time, when the rains ought to fall in 
Scythia, there is scarcely any rain worth mentioning, while in 
summer it never gives over raining; and thunder, which else 
where is frequent then, in Scythia is unknown in that part of the 
year, coming only in summer, when it is very heavy. Thunder 
in the winter- time is there accounted a prodigy; as also are 
earthquakes, whether they happen in winter or summer. 
Horses bear the winter well, cold as it is, but mules and asses are 
quite unable to bear it; whereas in other countries mules and 
asses are found to endure the cold, while horses, if they stand 
still, are frost-bitten. 

29. To me it seems that the cold may likewise be the cause 
which prevents the oxen in Scythia from having horns. There 
is a line of Homer s in the Odyssey which gives a support to my 
opinion : 

" Lybia too, where horns bud quick on the foreheads of lambkins." * 

He means to say, what is quite true, that in warm countries 
the horns come early. So too in countries where the cold is 
severe animals either have no horns, or grow them with difficulty 
the cold being the cause in this instance. 

30. Here I must express my wonder additions being what 
my work always from the very first affected that in Elis, 
where the cold is not remarkable, and there is nothing else to 
account for it, mules are never produced. The Eleans say it is 
in consequence of a curse; 3 and their habit is, when the breed 
ing-time comes, to take their mares into one of the adjoining 

1 The clearing of forests and the spread of agriculture have tended to 
render the climate of these regions less severe than in the time of Hero 
dotus. Still, even at the present day, the south of Russia has a six months 
winter, lasting from October to April. From November to March the cold 
is, ordinarily, very intense. The summer is now intensely hot. 

* Odyss. iv. 85. 

* According to Plutarch, (Enomaus, king of Elis, out of his love tot 
horses, laid heavy curses on the breeding of mules in that country. 

CHAP. 29-33. The Hyperboreans 299 

countries, and there keep them till they are in foal, when they 
bring them back again into Elis. 

31. With respect to the feathers which are said by the 
Scythians to fill the air, 1 and to prevent persons from pene 
trating into the remoter parts of the continent, or even having 
any view of those regions, my opinion is, that in the countries 
above Scythia it always snows less, of course, in the summer 
than in the winter-time. Now snow when it falls looks like 
feathers, as every one is aware who has seen it come down close 
to him. These northern regions, therefore, are uninhabitable, 
by reason of the severity of the winter; and the Scythians, with 
their neighbours, call the snow-flakes feathers because, I think, 
of the likeness which they bear to them. I have now related 
what is said of the most distant parts of this continent whereof 
any account is given. 

32. Of the Hyperboreans nothing is said either by the 
Scythians or by any of the other dwellers in these regions, 
unless it be the Issedonians. But in my opinion, even the 
Issedonians are silent concerning them ; otherwise the Scythians 
would have repeated their statements, as they do those concern 
ing the one-eyed men. Hesiod, however, mentions them, and 
Homer also in the Epigoni, if that be really a work of his. 2 

33. But the persons who have by far the most to say on this 
subject are the Delians. They declare that certain offerings, 
packed in wheaten straw, were brought from the country of the 
Hyperboreans 3 into Scythia, and that the Scythians received 
them and passed them on to their neighbours upon the west, 
who continued to pass them on until at last they reached the 
Adriatic. From hence they were sent southward, and when 
they came to Greece, were received first of all by the Dodonseans. 
Thence they descended to the Maliac Gulf, from which they 
were carried across into Euboea, where the people handed them 
on from city to city, till they came at length to Carystus. 

1 Supra, ch. 7, ad fin. 

* An epic poem, in hexameter verse, on the subject of the second siege 
of Thebes by the sons of those killed in the first siege. It was a sequel to 
another very ancient epic, the Thebais, which was upon the first Theban 

8 Very elaborate accounts have been given of the Hyperboreans both in 
ancient and modern times. They are, however, in reality not an historical, 
but an ideal nation. The North Wind being given a local seat in certain 
mountains called Rhipaean (from purr), " a blast "), it was supposed there 
must be a country above the north wind, which would not be cold, and 
which would have inhabitants. Ideal perfections were gradually ascribed 
to this region. 

joo The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

The Carystians took them over to Tenos, without stopping at 
Andros ; and the Tenians brought them finally to Delos. Such, 
according to their own account, was the road by which the 
offerings reached the Delians. Two damsels, they say, named 
Hyperoche" and Laodice, brought the first offerings from the 
Hyperboreans; and with them the Hyperboreans sent five men, 
to keep them from all harm by the way; these are the persons 
whom the Delians call " Perpherees," and to whom great 
honours are paid at Delos. Afterwards the Hyperboreans, 
when they found that their messengers did not return, thinking 
it would be a grievous thing always to be liable to lose the 
envoys they should send, adopted the following plan: they 
wrapped their offerings in the wheaten straw, and bearing them 
to their borders, charged their neighbours to send them forward 
from one nation to another, which was done accordingly, and 
in this way the offerings reached Delos. I myself know of a 
practice like this, which obtains with the women of Thrace and 
Paeonia. They in their sacrifices to the queenly Diana bring 
wheaten straw always with their offerings. Of my own know 
ledge I can testify that this is so. 

34. The damsels sent by the Hyperboreans died in Delos; 
and in their honour all the Delian girls and youths are wont to 
cut off their hair. The girls, before their marriage-day, cut off 
a curl, and twining it round a distaff, lay it upon the grave of 
the strangers. This grave is on the left as one enters the pre 
cinct of Diana, and has an olive-tree growing on it. The youths 
wind some of their hair round a kind of grass, and, like the 
girls, place it upon the tomb. Such are the honours paid to 
these damsels by the Delians. 

35. They add that, once before, there came to Delos by the 
same road as Hyperoche and Laodice, two other virgins from 
the Hyperboreans, whose names were Arge and Opis. Hype- 
roch6 and Laodice came to bring to Ilithyia the offering which 
they had laid upon themselves, in acknowledgment of their 
quick labours; but Arg and Opis came at the same time as 
the gods of Delos, 1 and are honoured by the Delians in a 
different way. For the Delian women make collections in 
these maidens names, and invoke them in the hymn which 
Olen, a Ly cian, composed for them ; and the rest of the islanders, 
and even the lonians, have been taught by the Delians to do the 
like. This Olen, who came from Lycia. made the other old 

1 Apollo and Diana. 

CHAP. 34-39. Chief Tracts of Asia 301 

hymns also which are sung in Delos. The Delians add, that 
the ashes from the thigh-bones burnt upon the altar are scattered 
over the tomb of Opis and Arge. Their tomb lies behind the 
temple of Diana, facing the east, near the banqueting-hall of 
the Ceians. Thus much then, and no more, concerning the 

36. As for the tale of Abaris, who is said to have been a 
Hyperborean, and to have gone with his arrow all round the 
world without once eating, I shall pass it by in silence. Thus 
much, however, is clear: if there are Hyperboreans, there must 
also be Hypernotians. For my part, I cannot but laugh when 
I see numbers of persons drawing maps of the world without 
having any reason to guide them; making, as they do, the 
ocean-stream to run all round the earth, and the earth itself to 
be an exact circle, as if described by a pair of compasses, 1 with 
Europe and Asia just of the same size. The truth in this matter 
I will now proceed to explain in a very few words, making it 
clear what the real size of each region is, and what shape should 
be given them. 

37. The Persians inhabit a country upon the southern or 
Erythraean sea; above them, to the north, are the Medes; 
beyond the Medes, the Saspirians ; beyond them, the Colchians, 
reaching to the northern sea, into which the Phasis empties 
itself. These four nations fill the whole space from one sea to 
the other. 

38. West of these nations there project into the sea two 
tracts which I will now describe; one, beginning at the river 
Phasis on the north, stretches along the Euxine and the Helles 
pont to Sigeum in the Troas ; while on the south it reaches from 
the Myriandrian gulf, 2 which adjoins Phoenicia, to the Triopic 
promontory. This is one of the tracts, and is inhabited by 
thirty different nations. 

39. The other starts from the country of the Persians, and 
stretches into the Erythraean sea, containing first Persia, then 
Assyria, and after Assyria, Arabia. It ends, that is to say it is 
considered to end, though it does not really come to a termina 
tion, 3 at the Arabian gulf the gulf whereinto Darius conducted 

1 The belief which Herodotus ridicules is not that of the world s spherical 
form, what had not yet been suspected by the Greeks, but a false notion 
of the configuration of the land on the earth s surface. 

* Or Bay of Issus [a city in the S.E. extremity of Cilicia, in Asia Minor. 
E. H. B.]. 

* Since Egypt adjoins Arabia. 

302 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

the canal which he made from the Nile. 1 Between Persia and 
Phoenicia lies a broad and ample tract of country, after which 
the region I am describing skirts our sea, 2 stretching from 
Phoenicia along the coast of Palestine-Syria till it comes to 
Egypt, where it terminates. This entire tract contains but three 
nations. 3 The whole of Asia west of the country of the Persians 
is comprised in these two regions. 

40. Beyond the tract occupied by the Persians, Medes, 
Saspirians, and Colchians, towards the east and the region of 
the sunrise, Asia is bounded on the south by the Erythraean sea, 
and on the north by the Caspian and the river Araxes, which 
flows towards the rising sun. Till you reach India the country 
is peopled ; but further east it is void of inhabitants, and no one 
can say what sort of region it is. Such then is the shape, and 
such the size of Asia. 

41. Libya belongs to one of the above-mentioned tracts, for it 
adjoins on Egypt. In Egypt the tract is at first a narrow neck, 
the distance from our sea to the Erythraean not exceeding a 
hundred thousand fathoms, or, in other words, a thousand 
furlongs ; * but from the point where the neck ends, the tract 
which bears the name of Libya is of very great breadth. 

42. For my part I am astonished that men should ever have 
divided Libya, Asia, and Europe as they have, for they are 
exceedingly unequal. Europe extends the entire length of the 
other two, and for breadth will not even (as I think) bear to 
be compared to them. As for Libya, we know it to be washed 
on all sides by the sea, except where it is attached to Asia. 
This discovery was first made by Necos, 6 the Egyptian king, 
who on desisting from the canal which he had begun between 
the Nile and the Arabian Gulf, 6 sent to sea a number of ships 
manned by Phoenicians, with orders to make for the Pillars of 
Hercules, 7 and return to Egypt through them, and by the 

1 This was the completion of the canal which Neco found it prudent to 
desist from re-opening, through fear of the growing power of Babylon. It 
was originally a canal of Rameses II., which had been filled up by the sand. 

*The Mediterranean. (See Book i. ch. 185.) 

8 The Assyrians (among whom the Palestine Syrians were included), the 
Arabians, and the Phoenicians. 

* Modern surveys show that the direct distance across the isthmus is not 
so much as 80 miles. 

5 We may infer, from Neco s ordering the Phoenicians to come round by 
the " Pillars of Hercules," that the form of Africa was already known, and 
that this was not the first expedition which had gone round it. 

Vide supra, ii. 158. 

7 They were so called, not from the Greek hero, but from the Tyrian 

CHAP. 40-43. Voyage of Sataspes 303 

Mediterranean. The Phoenicians took their departure from 
Egypt by way of the Erythraean Sea, and so sailed into the 
southern ocean. When autumn came, they went ashore, where- 
ever they might happen to be, and having sown a tract of land 
with corn, waited until the grain was fit to cut. Having reaped 
it, they again set sail ; and thus it came to pass that two whole 
years went by, and it was not till the third year that they 
doubled the Pillars of Hercules, and made good their voyage 
home. On their return, they declared I for my part do not 
believe them, but perhaps others may that in sailing round 
Libya they had the sun upon their right hand. 1 In this way 
was the extent of Libya first discovered. 

43. Next to these Phoenicians the Carthaginians, according to 
their own accounts, made the voyage. For Sataspes, son of 
Teaspes the Achsemenian, did not circumnavigate Libya, though 
he was sent to do so; but, fearing the length and desolateness 
of the journey, he turned back and left unaccomplished the task 
which had been set him by his mother. This man had used 
violence towards a maiden, the daughter of Zopyrus, son of 
Megabyzus, 2 and King Xerxes was about to impale him for the 
offence, when his mother, who was a sister of Darius, begged 
him off, undertaking to punish his crime more heavily than the 
king himself had designed. She would force him, she said, to 
sail round Libya and return to Eygpt by the Arabian Gulf. 
Xerxes gave his consent; and Sataspes went down to Egypt, 
and there got a ship and crew, with which he set sail for the 
Pillars of Hercules. Having passed the Straits, he doubled the 
Libyan headland, known as Cape Soloeis, 3 and proceeded south 
ward. Following this course for many months over a vast 
stretch of sea, and finding that more water than he had crossed 
still lay ever before him, he put about, and came back to Egypt. 
Thence proceeding to the court, he made report to Xerxes, that 
at the farthest point to which he had reached, the coast was 
occupied by a dwarfish race, 4 who wore a dress made from the 

deity, whose worship was always introduced by the Phoenicians in their 

1 Here the faithful reporting of what he did not himself imagine true has 
stood our author in good stead. Few would have believed the Phoenician 
circumnavigation of Africa had it not been vouched for by this discovery. 
When Herodotus is blamed for repeating the absurd stories which he had 
been told, it should be considered what we must have lost had he made it 
a rule to reject from his History all that he thought unlikely. 

1 Vide supra, iii. 160. * The modern Cape Spartel. 

4 This is the second mention of a dwarfish race in Africa (see above, 
ii. 32). 

304 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

palm-tree. These people, whenever he landed, left their towns 
and fled away to the mountains; his men, however, did them 
no wrong, only entering into their cities and taking some of 
their cattle. The reason why he had not sailed quite round 
Libya was, he said, because the ship stopped, and would not go 
any further. Xerxes, however, did not accept this account 
for true; and so Sataspes, as he had failed to accomplish the 
task set him, was impaled by the king s orders in accordance 
with the former sentence. 1 One of his eunuchs, on hearing of 
his death, ran away with a great portion of his wealth, and 
reached Samos, where a certain Samian seized the whole. I 
know the man s name well, but I shall willingly forget it here. 

44. Of the greater part of Asia Darius was the discoverer. 
Wishing to know where the Indus (which is the only river save 
one 2 that produces crocodiles) emptied itself into the sea, he 
sent a number of men, on whose truthfulness he could rely, and 
among them Scylax of Caryanda, 3 to sail down the river. They 
started from the city of Caspatyrus, 4 in the region called Pac- 
tyica, and sailed down the stream in an easterly direction 5 to 
the sea. Here they turned westward, and, after a voyage of 
thirty months, reached the place from which the Egyptian king, 
of whom I spoke above, sent the Phoenicians to sail round 
Libya. 6 After this voyage was completed, Darius conquered 
the Indians, 7 and made use of the sea in those parts. Thus all 
Asia, except the eastern portion, has been found to be similarly 
circumstanced with Libya. 8 

45. But the boundaries of Europe are quite unknown, and 
there is not a man who can say whether any sea girds it round 
either on the north 9 or on the east, while in length it undoubtedly 
extends as far as both the other two. For my part I cannot 
conceive why three names, and women s names especially, should 
ever have been given to a tract which is in reality one, nor why 

1 The fate of Sir Walter Raleigh furnishes a curious parallel to this. 

1 That is, the Nile. Vide supra, ii. 67. 

1 Caryanda was a place on or near the Carian coast. 

4 Vide supra, iii. 102. 

6 The real course of the Indus is somewhat west of south. The error of 
Herodotus arose perhaps from the Cabul river being mistaken for the true 

* Vide supra, ch. 42. 

7 The conquest of the Indians, by which we are to understand the re 
duction of the Punjab, and perhaps (though this is not certain) of Scinde, 
preceded (as may be proved by the Inscriptions) the Scythian expedition. 

8 Limited, that is, and circumscribed by fixed boundaries. 

See Book iii. ch. 115, sub. fin. 

CHAP. 44-46. Scythian Customs 305 

the Egyptian Nile and the Colchian Phasis (or according to 
others the Maeotic Tanais and Cimmerian ferry) should have 
been fixed upon for the boundary lines; 1 nor can I even say 
who gave the three tracts their names, or whence they took the 
epithets. According to the Greeks in general, Libya was so 
called after a certain Libya, a native woman, and Asia after the 
wife of Prometheus. The Lydians, however, put in a claim to 
the latter name, which, thy declare, was not derived from Asia 
the wife of Prometheus, but from Asies, the son of Cotys, and 
grandson of Manes, who also gave name to the tribe Asias at 
Sardis. As for Europe, no one can say whether it is surrounded 
by the sea or not, neither is it known whence the name of 
Europe was derived, nor who gave it name, unless we say that 
Europe was so called after the Tyrian Europe*, and before her 
time was nameless, like the other divisions. But it is certain 
that Europe was an Asiatic, and never even set foot on the land 
which the Greeks now call Europe, only sailing from Phoenicia 
to Crete, and from Crete to Lycia. However let us quit these 
matters. We shall ourselves continue to use the names 2 which 
custom sanctions. 

46, The Euxine sea, where Darius now went to war, has 
nations dwelling around it, with the one exception of the 
Scythians, more unpolished than those of any other region that 
we know of. For, setting aside Anacharsis 3 and the Scythian 
people, there is not within this region a single nation which can 
be put forward as having any claims to wisdom, or which has 
produced a single person of any high repute. The Scythians 
indeed have in one respect, and that the very most important 
of all those that fall under man s control, shown themselves 
wiser than any nation upon the face of the earth. Their customs 
otherwise are not such as I admire. 4 The one thing of which I 
speak, is the contrivance whereby they make it impossible for 
the enemy who invades them to escape destruction, while they 
themselves are entirely out of his reach, unless it please them 
to engage with him. Having neither cities nor forts, and carry- 

1 The earliest Greek geographers divided the world into two portions 
only, Europe and Asia, in the latter of which they included Libya, 

1 There are grounds for believing Europe and Asia to have originally 
signified " the west " and " the east " respectively. Both are Semitic 
terms, and probably passed to the Greeks from the Phoenicians. 

8 Concerning Anacharsis, see below, ch. 76. 

* It was a fashion among the Greeks to praise the simplicity and honesty 
of the nomade races, who weie less civilised than themselves, Herodotus 
intends to mark his dissent from such views. 

306 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

ing their dwellings with them wherever they go; accustomed, 
moreover, one and all of them, to shoot from horseback; and 
living not by husbandry but on their cattle, their waggons the 
only houses that they possess, 1 how can they fail of being un 
conquerable, and unassailable even? 

47. The nature of their country, and the rivers by which it is 
intersected, greatly favour this mode of resisting attacks. For 
the land is level, well watered, and abounding in pasture ; 8 
while the rivers which traverse it are almost equal in number to 
the canals of Egypt. Of these I shall only mention the most 
famous and such as are navigable to some distance from the sea. 
They are, the Ister, which has five mouths; the Tyras, the 
Hypanis, the Borysthenes, the Panticapes, the Hypacyris, the 
Gerrhus, and the Tanais. The courses of these streams I shall 
now proceed to describe. 

48. The Ister is of all the rivers with which we are acquainted 
the mightiest. It never varies in height, but continues at the 
same level summer and winter. Counting from the west it is 
the first of the Scythian rivers, and the reason of its being the 
greatest is, that it receives the waters of several tributaries. 
Now the tributaries which swell its flood are the following : first 3 
on the side of Scythia, these five the stream called by the 
Scythians Porata, and by the Greeks Pyretus, the Tiarantus, the 
Arams, the Naparis, and the Ordessus. The first mentioned is 
a great stream, and is the easternmost of the tributaries. The 
Tiarantus is of less volume, and more to the west. The Ararus, 
Naparis, and Ordessus fall into the Ister between these two. All 
the above mentioned are genuine Scythian rivers, and go to 
swell the current of the Ister. 

49. From the country of the Agathyrsi comes down another 
river, the Maris, which empties itself into the same; and from 
the heights of Hsemus descend with a northern course three 
mighty streams, the Atlas, the Auras, and the Tibisis, and pour 
their waters into it. Thrace gives it three tributaries, the 
Athrys, the Noes, and the Artanes, which all pass through the 
country of the Crobyzian Thracians. Another tributary is 

* It may be doubted whether the ancient Scythians really lived entirely 
in their waggons. More probably their waggons carried a tent, consisting 
of a light framework of wood covered with felt or matting, which could 
be readily transferred ~from the wheels to the ground, and vies versd. 

*The pasture is now not good, excepting in the immediate vicinity of 
the rivers; otherwise the picture drawn of the country accords exactly 
with the accounts given by modern travellers. 

CHAP. 47-50. Ister and Nile Compared 307 

furnished by Pseonia, namely, the Scius; this river, rising near 
Mount Rhodope", forces its way through the chain of Haemus, 1 
and so reaches the Ister. From Illyria comes another stream, 
the Angrus, which has a course from south to north, and after 
watering the Triballian plain, falls into the Brongus, which falls 
into the Ister. 2 So the Ister is augmented by these two streams, 
both considerable. Besides all these, the Ister receives also the 
waters of the Carpis 3 and the Alpis/ two rivers running in a 
northerly direction from the country above the Umbrians. For 
the Ister flows through the whole extent of Europe, rising in 
the country of the Celts (the most westerly of all the nations 
of Europe, excepting the Cynetians), and thence running 
across the continent till it reaches Scythia, whereof it washes 
the flanks. 

50. All these streams, then, and many others, add their 
waters to swell the flood of the Ister, which thus increased 
becomes the mightiest of rivers ; for undoubtedly if we compare 
the stream of the Nile with the single stream of the Ister, we 
must give the preference to the Nile, 5 of which no tributary 
river, nor even rivulet, augments the volume. The Ister re 
mains at the same level both summer and winter owing to 
the following reasons, as I believe. During the winter it runs 
at its natural height, or a very little higher, because in those 
countries there is scarcely any rain in winter, but constant snow* 
When summer comes, this snow, which is of great depth, begins 
to melt, and flows into the Ister, which is swelled at that season, 
not only by this cause but also by the rains, which are heavy 
and frequent at that part of the year. Thus the various streams 
which go to form the Ister are higher in summer than in winter, 
and just so much higher as the sun s power and attraction are 
greater; so that these two causes counteract each other, and 

L This is untrue. No stream forces its way through this chain. 

The Angrus is either the western Morava or the Ibar, most probably 
the latter. The Brongus is the eastern or Bulgarian Morava. The 
Triballian plain is thus the modern Servia. 

* As Herodotus plunges deeper into the European continent, his know 
ledge is less exact. He knows the fact that the Danube receives two great 
tributaries from the south (the Drave and the Save) in the upper part of its 
course, but he does not any longer know the true direction of the streams, 

4 It is interesting to find in Herodotus this first trace of the word Alp, 
by which, from the time of Polybius, the great European chain has been 

The lengths of the two rivers are of the Nile, 4000 miles; of th 
Danube, 1760 miles. 

308 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

the effect is to produce a balance, whereby the Ister remains 
always at the same level. 1 

51. This, then, is one of the great Scythian rivers; the next 
to it is the Tyras, which rises from a great lake separating 
Scythia from the land of the Neuri, and runs with a southerly 
course to the sea. Greeks dwell at the mouth of the river, who 
are called Tyritae. 

52. The third river is the Hypanis. 2 This stream rises 
within the limits of Scythia, and has its source in another vast 
lake, around which wild white horses graze. The lake is called, 
properly enough, the Mother of the Hypanis. 3 The Hypanis, 
rising here, during the distance of five days navigation is a 
shallow stream, and the water sweet and pure; thence, however, 
to the sea, which is a distance of four days, it is exceedingly 
bitter. This change is caused by its receiving into it at that 
point a brook the waters of which are so bitter that, although 
it is but a tiny rivulet, it nevertheless taints the entire Hypanis, 
which is a large stream among those of the second order. The 
source of this bitter spring is on the borders of the Scythian 
Husbandmen, where they adjoin upon the Alazonians; and the 
place where it rises is called in the Scythic tongue Exampaus, 
which means in our language, ; The Sacred Ways." The 
spring itself bears the same name. The Tyras and the Hypanis 
approach each other in the country of the Alazonians, 4 but 
afterwards separate, and leave a wide space between their 

53. The fourth of the Scythian rivers is the Borysthenes. 6 
Next to the Ister, it is the greatest of them all; and, in my 
judgment, it is the most productive river, not merely in Scythia, 
but in the whole world, excepting only the Nile, with which no 
stream can possibly compare. It has upon its banks the loveliest 
and most excellent pasturages for cattle ; it contains abundance 
of the most delicious fish; its water is most pleasant to the taste; 

1 The " balance " of which Herodotus speaks is caused by the increased 
volume of the southern tributaries during the summer (which is caused by 
the melting of the snows along the range of the Alps), being just sufficient 
to compensate for the diminished volume of the northern tributaries, 
which in winter are swelled by the rains. 

* The Hypanis is undoubtedly a main tributary of the Dnieper. 

* Compare below, ch. 86. 

*That is, between the 47th and 48th parallels. The fact here noticed 
by Herodotus strongly proves his actual knowledge of the geography of 
these countries. 

* The Borysthenes is the Dnieper. 

CHAP. 51-56. Scythian Rivers 309 

its stream is limpid, while all the other rivers near it are muddy; 
the richest harvests spring up along its course, and where the 
ground is not sown, the heaviest crops of grass; while salt forms 
in great plenty about its mouth without human aid, 1 and large 
fish are taken in it of the sort called Antacaei, without any 
prickly bones, and good for pickling. 2 Nor are these the whole 
of its marvels. As far inland as the place named Gerrhus, 
which is distant forty days voyage from the sea, its course is 
known, and its direction is from north to south; but above this 
no one has traced it, so as to say through what countries it 
flows. It enters the territory of the Scythian Husbandmen 
after running for some time across a desert region, and continues 
for ten days navigation to pass through the land which they 
inhabit. It is the only river besides the Nile the sources of 
which are unknown to me, as they are also (I believe) to all the 
other Greeks. Not long before it reaches the sea, the Borys- 
thenes is joined by the Hypanis, which pours its waters into the 
same lake. The land that lies between them, a narrow point 
like the beak of a ship, is called Cape Hippolaiis. Here is a 
temple dedicated to Ceres, and opposite the temple upon the 
Hypanis is the dwelling-place of the Borysthenites. But 
enough has been said of these streams. 

54. Next in succession comes the fifth river, called the Panti- 
capes, which has, like the Borysthenes, a course from north to 
south, and rises from a lake. The space between this river and 
the Borysthenes is occupied by the Scythians who are engaged 
in husbandry. After watering their country, the Panticapes 
flows through Hylaea, and empties itself into the Borysthenes. 

55. The sixth stream is the Hypacyris, a river rising from a 
lake, and running directly through the middle of the Nomadic 
Scythians. It falls into the sea near the city of Carcinitis, 
leaving Hylaea and the course of Achilles 3 to the right. 

56. The seventh river is the Gerrhus, which is a branch 
thrown out by the Borysthenes at the point where the course of 
that stream first begins to be known, to wit, the region called by 

1 The salines of Kinburn, at the extremity of the promontory which 
forms the southern shore of the liman of the Dnieper, are still of the greatest 
importance to Russia, and supply vast tracts of the interior. 

1 The sturgeon of the Dnieper have to this day a great reputation. 

1 This is the modern Kosa Tendra and Kosa Djarilgatch, a long and 
narrow strip of sandy beach extending about 80 miles from nearly opposite 
Kalantchak to a point about 12 miles south of the promontory of Kinburn, 
and attached to the continent only in the middle by an isthmus about xa 
miles across. 

3 10 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

the same name as the stream itself, viz. Gerrhus. This river on 
its passage towards the sea divides the country of the Nomadic 
from that of the Royal Scyths. It runs into the Hypacyris. 

57. The eighth river is the Tanais, a stream which has its 
source, far up the country, in a lake of vast size, 1 and which 
empties itself into another still larger lake, the Palus Maeotis, 
whereby the country of the Royal Scythians is divided from that 
of the Sauromatae. The Tanais receives the waters of a tribu 
tary stream, called the Hyrgis. 2 

58. Such then are the rivers of chief note in Scythia. The 
grass which the land produces is more apt to generate gall in 
the beasts that feed on it than any other grass which is known 
to us, as plainly appears on the opening of their carcases. 

59. Thus abundantly are the Scythians provided with the 
most important necessaries. Their manners and customs come 
now to be described. They worship only the following gods, 
namely, Vesta, whom they reverence beyond all the rest, Jupiter, 
and Tellus, whom they consider to be the wife of Jupiter; and 
after these Apollo, Celestial Venus, Hercules, and Mars. These 
gods are worshipped by the whole nation: the Royal Scythians 
offer sacrifice likewise to Neptune. In the Scythic tongue Vesta 
is called Tahiti, Jupiter (very properly, in my judgment) Papaus, 
Tellus Apia, Apollo CEtosyrus, Celestial Venus Artimpasa, and 
Neptune Thamimasadas. They use no images, altars, or 
temples, except in the worship of Mars; but in his worship 
they do use them. 

60. The manner of their sacrifices is everywhere and in every 
case the same; the victim stands with its two fore-feet bound 
together by a cord, and the person who is about to offer, taking 
his station behind the victim, gives the rope a pull, and thereby 
throws the animal down; as it falls he invokes the god to whom 
he is offering; after which he puts a noose round the animal s 
neck, and, inserting a small stick, twists it round, and so 
strangles him. No fire is lighted, there is no consecration, and 
no pouring out of drink-offerings; but directly that the beast is 
strangled the sacrificer flays him, and then sets to work to boil 
the ilesh. 

61. As Scythia, however, is utterly barren of firewood, a plan 

1 The Tanais (the modern Dow) rises from a small lake, the lake of Ivan- 
Ozero, in lat. 54 2 , long. 38 3 . The Volga flows in part from the great 
lake of Onega. 

1 Dean Blakesley regards it as the Sevitrsky, in which he finds " some 
vestige of the ancient title." 

CHAP. 57-62- Sacrifices 311 

has had to be contrived for boiling the flesh, which is the follow 
ing. After flaying the beasts, they take out all the bones, 
and (if they possess such gear) put the flesh into boilers made in 
the country, which are very like the cauldrons of the Lesbians, 
except that they are of a much larger size; then placing the 
bones of the animals beneath the cauldron, they set them alight, 
and so boil the meat. 1 If they do not happen to possess a 
cauldron, they make the animal s paunch hold the flesh, and 
pouring in at the same time a little water, lay the bones under 
and light them. The bones burn beautifully; and the paunch 
easily contains all the flesh when it is stript from the bones, so 
that by this plan your ox is made to boil himself, and other 
victims also to do the like. When the meat is all cooked, the 
sacrificer offers a portion of the flesh and of the entrails, by 
casting it on the ground before him. They sacrifice all sorts 
of cattle, but most commonly horses. 2 

62. Such are the victims offered to the other gods, and such 
is the mode in which they are sacrificed; but the rites paid to 
Mars are different. In every district, at the seat of government, 
there stands a temple of this god, whereof the following is a 
description. It is a pile of brushwood, made of a vast quantity 
of fagots, in length and breadth three furlongs; in height some 
what less, 8 having a square platform upon the top, three sides of 
which are precipitous, while the fourth slopes so that men may 
walk up it. Each year a hundred and fifty waggon-loads of 
brushwood are added to the pile, which sinks continually by 
reason of the rains. An antique iron sword is planted on the 
top of every such mound, and serves as the image of Mars: 
yearly sacrifices of cattle and of horses are made to it, and more 
victims are offered thus than to all the rest of their gods. When 
prisoners are taken in war, out of every hundred men they 
sacrifice one, not however with the same rites as the cattle, but 
with different. Libations of wine are first poured upon their 
heads, after which they are slaughtered over a vessel ; the vessel 
is then carried up to the top of the pile, and the blood poured 
upon the scymitar. While this takes place at the top of the 
mound, below, by the side of the temple, the right hands and 

1 It may be gathered from Ezekiel (xxiv. 5) that a similar custom pre 
vailed among the Jews. 

Vide supra, ch. i. 216, where the same is related of the Massageta?. 
Horses have always abounded in the steppes, and perhaps in ancient times 
were more common than any other animal. 

8 These measures are utterly incredible. 

I 405 *j, 

3 1 2 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv. 

arms of the slaughtered prisoners are cut off, and tossed on high 
into the air. Then the other victims are slain, and those who 
have offered the sacrifice depart, leaving the hands and arms 
where they may chance to have fallen, and the bodies also, 

63. Such are the observances of the Scythians with respect to 
sacrifice. They never use swine for the purpose, nor indeed 
is it their wont to breed them in any part of their country. 

64. In what concerns war, their customs are the following. 
The Scythian soldier drinks the blood of the first man he over 
throws in battle. Whatever number he slays, he cuts off all their 
heads, and carries them to the king; since he is thus entitled 
to a share of the booty, whereto he forfeits all claim if he does 
not produce a head. In order to strip the skull of its covering, 
he makes a cut round the head above the ears, and, laying hold 
of the scalp, shakes the skull out; then with the rib of an ox 
he scrapes the scalp clean of flesh, and softening it by rubbing 
between the hands, uses it thenceforth as a napkin. The Scyth 
is proud of these scalps, and hangs them from his bridle-rein; 
the greater the number of such napkins that a man can show, 
the more highly is he esteemed among them. Many make 
themselves cloaks, like the capotes of our peasants, by sewing 
a quantity of these scalps together. Others flay the right arms 
of their dead enemies, and make of the skin, which is stripped off 
with the nails hanging to it, a covering for their quivers. Now 
the skin of a man is thick and glossy, and would in whiteness 
surpass almost all other hides. Some even flay the entire body 
of their enemy, and stretching it upon a frame carry it about 
with them wherever they ride. Such are the Scythian customs 
with respect to scalps and skins. 

65. The skulls of their enemies, not indeed of all, but of those 
whom they most detest, they treat as follows. Having sawn off 
the portion below the eyebrows, and cleaned out the inside, they 
cover the outside with leather. When a man is poor, this is all 
that he does; but if he is rich, he also lines the inside with gold: 
in either case the skull is used as a drinking-cup. They do 
the same with the skulls of their own kith and kin if they have 
been at feud with them, and have vanquished them in the 
presence of the king. When strangers whom they deem of any 
account come to visit them, these skulls are handed round, and 
the host tells how that these were his relations who made war 
upon him, and how that he got the better of them; all this being 
looked upon as proof of bravery. 

CHAP, 63-68. Enarees 3 1 3 

66. Once a year the governor of each district, at a set place in 
his own province, mingles a bowl of wine, of which all Scythians 
have a right to drink by whom foes have been slain; while they 
who have slain no enemy are not allowed to taste of the bowl, but 
sit aloof in disgrace. No greater shame than this can happen to 
them. Such as have slain a very large number of foes, have 
two cups instead of one, and drink from both. 

67. Scythia has an abundance of soothsayers, who foretell the 
future by means of a number of willow wands. A large bundle 
of these wands is brought and laid on the ground. The sooth 
sayer unties the bundle, and places each wand by itself, at the 
same time uttering his prophecy : then, while he is still speaking, 
he gathers the rods together again, and makes them up once 
more into a bundle. This mode of divination is of home growth 
in Scythia. 1 The Enarees, or woman-like men, have another 
method, which they say Venus taught them. It is done with 
the inner bark of the linden-tree. They take a piece of this bark, 
and, splitting it into three strips, keep twining the strips about 
their fingers, and untwining them, while they prophesy. 

68. Whenever the Scythian king falls sick, he sends for the 
three soothsayers of most renown at the time, who come and 
make trial of their art in the mode above described. Generally 
they say that the king is ill, because such or such a person, 
mentioning his name, has sworn falsely by the royal hearth. 
This is the usual oath among the Scythians, when they wish to 
swear with very great solemnity. Then the man accused of 
having forsworn himself is arrested and brought before the king. 
The soothsayers tell him that by their art it is clear he has sworn 
a false oath by the royal hearth, and so caused the illness of the 
king he denies the charge, protests that he has sworn no false 
oath, and loudly complains of the wrong done to him. Upon 
this the king sends for six new soothsayers, who try the matter 
by soothsaying. If they too find the man guilty of the offence, 
straightway he is beheaded by those who first accused him, and 
his goods are parted among them: if, on the contrary, they 
acquit him, other soothsayers, and again others, are sent for, to 
try the case. Should the greater number decide in favour of 
the man s innocence, then they who first accused him forfeit 
their lives. 

1 It was not, however, confined to Scythia. There is distinct allusion 
to such a mode of divination in Hosea (ii. 12): " My people ask counsel oi 
their stocks, and their staff dedareth unto them." 

314 The History of Herodotus BOOK iv, 

69. The mode of their execution is the following: a waggon is 
loaded with brushwood, and oxen are harnessed to it; l the sooth 
sayers, with their feet tied together, their hands bound behind 
their backs, and their mouths gagged, are thrust into the midst 
of the brushwood; finally the wood is set alight, and the oxen, 
being startled, are made to rush off with the waggon. It often 
happens that the oxen and the soothsayers are both consumed 
together, but sometimes the pole of the waggon is burnt through, 
and the oxen escape with a scorching. Diviners lying diviners, 
they call them are burnt in the way described, for other causes 
besides the one here spoken of. When the king puts one of 
them to death, he takes care not to let any of his sons survive: 
all the male offspring are slain with the father, only the females 
being allowed to live. 

70. Oaths among the Scyths are accompanied with the 
following ceremonies : a large earthern bowl is filled with wine, 
and the parties to the oath, wounding themselves slightly with 
a knife or an awl, drop some of their blood into the wine ; then 
they plunge into the mixture a scymitar, some arrows, a battle- 
axe, and a javelin, all the while repeating prayers; lastly the 
two contracting parties drink each a draught from the bowl, as 
do also the chief men among their followers. 2 

71. The tombs of their kings are in the land of the Gerrhi, 
who dwell at the point where the Borysthenes is first navigable. 
Here, when the king dies, they dig a grave, which is square in 
shape, and of great size. When it is ready, they take the king s 
corpse, and, having opened the belly, and cleaned out the inside, 
fill the cavity with a preparation of chopped cypress, frankin 
cense, parsley-seed, and anise-seed, after which they sew up the 
opening, enclose the body in wax, and, placing it on a waggon, 
carry it about through all the different tribes. On this proces 
sion each tribe, when it receives the corpse, imitates the example 
which is first set by the Royal Scythians; every man chops off 
a piece of his ear, crops his hair close, and makes a cut all round 
his arm, lacerates his forehead and his nose, and thrusts an 
arrow through his left hand. Then they who have the care of 
the corpse carry it with them to another of the tribes which are 

1 We learn from this that the ancient Scythians, like the modern Cal- 
mucks and Nogais, used oxen and not horses to draw their waggons. 

* Modified forms of same ceremony are ascribed to the Lydians and 
Assyrians by Herodotus (i. 74), and to the Armenians and Iberians by 
Tacitus (Ann. xii. 47). The Arab practice (iii. 8) is somewhat different. 
In Southern Africa a custom very like the Scythian prevails to this day. 

CHAP. 69-73- Burial of Kings 3 1 5 

under the Scythian rule, followed by those whom they first 
visited. On completing the circuit of all the tribes under their 
sway, they find themselves in the country of the Gerrhi, who are 
the most remote of all, and so they come to the tombs of the 
kings. There the body of the dead king is laid in the grave 
prepared for it, stretched upon a mattress; spears are fixed in 
the ground on either side of the corpse, and beams stretched 
across above it to form a roof, which is covered with a thatching 
of osier twigs. In the open space around the body of the king 
they bury one of his concubines, first killing her by strangling, 
and also his cup-bearer, his cook, his groom, his lacquey, his 
messenger, some of his horses, firstlings of all his other posses 
sions, and some golden cups; for they use neither silver nor 
brass. After this they set to work, and raise a vast mound 
above the grave, all of them vying with each other and seeking 
to make it as tall as possible. 

72. When a year is gone by, further ceremonies take place. 
Fifty of the best of the late king s attendants are taken, all 
native Scythians for as bought slaves are unknown in the 
country, the Scythian kings choose any of their subjects that 
they like, to wait on them fifty of these are taken and strangled, 
with fifty of the most beautiful horses. When they are dead, 
their bowels are taken out, and the cavity cleaned, filled full of 
chaff, and straightway sewn up again. This done, a number of 
posts are driven into the ground, in sets of two pairs each, and 
on every pair half the felly of a wheel is placed archwise ; then 
strong stakes are run lengthways through the bodies of the 
horses from tail to neck, and they are mounted up upon the 
fellies, so that the felly in front supports the shoulders of the 
horse, while that behind sustains the belly and quarters, the 
legs dangling in mid-air; each horse is furnished with a bit and 
bridle, which latter is stretched out in front of the horse, and 
fastened to a peg. 1 The fifty strangled youths are then mounted 
severally on the fifty horses. To effect this, a second stake is 
passed through their bodies along the course of the spine to the 
neck; the lower end of which projects from the body, and is 
fixed into a socket, made in the stake that runs lengthwise down 
the horse. The fifty riders are thus ranged in a circle round the 
tomb, and so left. 

73. Such, then, is the mode in which the kings are buried: as 

1 The practice of impaling horses seems to have ceased in these regions. 
It was found, however, among the Tatars so late as the fourteenth century. 

3 1 6 The History of Herodotus BOOR iv. 

for the people, when any one dies, his nearest of kin lay him 
upon a waggon and take him round to all his friends in succession: 
each receives them in turn and entertains them with a banquet, 
whereat the dead man is served with a portion of all that is set 
before the others; this is done for forty days, at the end of which 
time the burial takes place. After the burial, those engaged in 
it have to purify themselves, which they do in the following way. 
First they well soap and wash their heads; then, in order to 
cleanse their bodies, they act as follows : they make a booth by 
fixing in the ground three sticks inclined towards one another, 1 
and stretching around them woollen felts, which they arrange so 
as to fit as close as possible: inside the booth a dish is placed 
upon the ground, into which they put a number of red-hot 
stones, and then add some hemp-seed. 

74. Hemp grows in Scythia: it is very like flax; only that